Suspects in terrorism case admit to lying about hit list

Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010

ANCHORAGE - An Alaska husband and wife pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to lying to the FBI about an assassination list created by the husband to revenge alleged crimes against Muslim civilians.

The domestic terrorism case against would-be jihadist Paul Gene Rockwood Jr., a convert to Islam from Virginia, and his British wife, Nadia Piroska Maria Rockwood, is set to unfold Thursday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline.

According to plea agreements filed Wednesday morning by the U.S. Attorney's office, Paul Rockwood will enter a guilty plea in exchange for an eight-year sentence for lying to federal officials in a domestic terrorism case.

Until recently, Rockwood, 35, worked as a meteorological technician for the National Weather Service in King Salmon, Alaska.

His wife, Nadia Rockwood, 36, who is charged with lying but not with terrorism, will get five years' probation, which she can serve in the United Kingdom. The Rockwoods have a 4-year-old child, and she is five months pregnant in a "high-risk pregnancy," according to papers filed by her appointed attorney, Jim Wendt of Anchorage.

The couple, who have not been in custody, appeared at the federal courthouse in Anchorage at their hearings Wednesday afternoon.

Both are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 23.

According to charging documents and their plea agreements, Paul Rockwood converted to Islam in Virginia in late 2001 or early 2002. He soon became an adherent of the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born jihadist who met with some of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists before they hijacked their planes. Al-Awlaki has solicited jihadists over Internet sites, and that's how Rockwood came to know his ideology, according to the plea agreement.

"Rockwood became a strict adherent to the jihad-promoting ideology of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki," according to the plea agreement. "This included a personal conviction that it was his religious responsibility to exact revenge by death on anyone who desecrated Islam."

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