Courts & Crime

Weatherman's jihadist hit list brings Alaska's first domestic terrorism case

A King Salmon, Alaska, weatherman and his British-born, stay-at-home wife on Wednesday became the first people to face a domestic terrorism case in Alaska when they were charged — and pleaded guilty — to lying to the FBI about a jihadist hit list.

Red-bearded Paul Gene Rockwood Jr., 35, a convert to Islam and a follower of a radical, anti-American cleric, faces an eight-year prison sentence — the maximum — under his plea deal. Nadia Piroska Maria Rockwood, 36, a dual U.S. and British citizen, is set to get five years probation, which she will be allowed to serve in Great Britain.

The blue-eyed couple admitted in back-to-back hearings in U.S. District Court that they misled counter-terrorism agents in Anchorage about the source and nature of an assassination list containing the names of about 15 people in the Lower 48 they deemed enemies of Islam.

Charging documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's office said Paul Rockwood drew up the hit list based on websites he read while a federal employee in King Salmon and considered shooting his targets or sending them package bombs. On a visit to Anchorage in April, Nadia Rockwood delivered the list to an unnamed person, and it somehow found its way to the FBI. The couple was interrogated about the list on May 19, which is when they lied, according to charging documents and their admissions.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline set sentencing for Aug. 23. He withheld his decision about whether he will accept the plea deals. If he doesn't, or decides to send Nadia Rockwood to prison, the couple can withdraw their pleas and go to trial. Lying to a federal agent normally carries a maximum five-year penalty, but three years can be added if the lying concerned domestic terrorism.

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