Alaska Couple Pleads Guilty to Terrorism Charges
Updated: August 24, 2010
Posted: July 23, 2010
Two American citizens from Alaska – a man who planned revenge attacks against those he believed "desecrated Islam" and his wife – have pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges.
On July 21, 2010, Paul Rockwood Jr., 35, pleaded guilty to making material false statements to a federal agent in an offense involving domestic terrorism for lying about creating a target list of those who have offended Islam. That same day, Nadia Rockwood, 36, pleaded guilty to willfully making false statements to the FBI for lying about her husband's target list. On August 24, 2010, Paul Rockwood was sentenced to eight years in prison and his wife to five years of probation.
According to the plea agreement, Paul Rockwood, also known as Bilal, converted to Islam in late 2001 or early 2002. Rockwood, who lived in Virginia at the time, became a strict adherent of the "violent jihad-promoting ideology" propagated by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric living in Yemen who distributes radical online lectures encouraging American Muslims to attack non-Muslims and Western interests.
After moving to Alaska in 2006, Rockwood further devoted himself to al-Awlaki's teachings, including "Constants on the Path of Jihad" and "44 Ways to Jihad," two sermons in which the Yemeni-based cleric urges followers to support jihad through a variety of means. Both sermons have influenced other American Muslim extremists who have plotted terrorist attacks against the U.S. or have been charged with terrorism-related offenses.
Rockwood, who held a "personal conviction that it was his religious responsibility to exact revenge by death on anyone who desecrated Islam," began selecting possible targets for execution, including U.S. servicemen. While living in Alaska, he researched explosive components, construction of remote-triggering devices and ways to build bombs delivered by mail carriers. Within the next four years, Rockwood had formalized his list of 15 specific people and entities and proposed killing his targets by using mail bombs or by shooting them in the head.
Both Paul and Nadia Rockwood denied knowledge of the target list when questioned by federal authorities in May 2010. Nadia Rockwood, a dual citizen of the U.K. and U.S., is among a very small group of American women charged with terror-related offenses in the U.S.