A British woman and her American husband accused over a domestic terrorism plot have admitted lying about the existence of a hit list of possible targets.
Paul Rockwood, 35, and his wife Nadia, 36, of King Salmon, Alaska, were charged with lying about the list and making false statements about domestic terrorism during interviews with FBI agents in May.
The FBI said the list had about 15 targets. Its contents were not made public.
Under a plea deal, Paul Rockwood, who worked as a meteorological technician for the National Weather Service, would serve eight years in prison and his wife, who is five months’ pregnant, would get five years’ probation in the UK, her country of origin.
US District Judge Ralph Beistline did not immediately approve the deal, but set sentencing for later.
Prosecutors said Paul Rockwood, also known as “Bilal”, converted to Islam about a decade ago and began studying the teachings of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who has professed hatred for the US and supports acts of terrorism.
According to court documents, he converted to Islam in late 2001 or 2002, when the couple lived in Virginia.
“After his conversion, and while residing in Virginia, Rockwood became a strict adherent to the violent Jihad-promoting ideology of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki,” the documents said.
“This included a personal conviction that it was his religious responsibility to exact revenge by death on anyone who desecrated Islam.”
Federal authorities claimed Rockwood began researching and selecting possible targets for future execution by visiting websites.
Later, they said, after he had moved to Alaska, he began researching explosive components, construction of remote triggering devices, such as mobile phones, and construction of bombs to be delivered by common mail carriers.
Authorities said that in late 2009, he began discussing using mail bombs and possibly killing targets by gunshot to the head.
They claimed he gave the list of targets to his wife in April and she carried it with her on a trip to Anchorage, where the FBI obtained it.
Nadia Rockwood admitted in court that she was aware that her husband wanted to seek revenge and knew the purpose of the list. But when questioned by authorities, she denied delivering the list and instead said it was a book or letter.
When the FBI interviewed her husband, he denied having created the list, its purpose or ever having had a list.
Rockwood will be held in custody until sentencing. Nadia Rockwood will be released to take care of the couple’s four-year-old child in Anchorage until her sentencing.
US Attorney for Alaska Karen Loeffler said the domestic terrorism case was the first of its kind there.
“I’m comfortable this is a fair and good result,” she said.
King Salmon is a small community of a few hundred people on the Alaska Peninsula.