Courts & Crime

American jihadist's exiled wife denied U.S. visit by judge

The exiled wife of convicted King Salmon jihadist Paul Rockwood lost her bid Tuesday to return to the United States with her two children to visit her husband in a federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline said in an order Tuesday that Nadia Rockwood, a dual U.S. and British citizen, hadn't opposed her sentence of five years probation in England last August for lying about a hit list of opponents of Islam her husband had prepared.

"There is no compelling reason to modify it now," said Beistline.

The judge acknowledged that Nadia Rockwood had "understandable" reasons to visit her husband with their young children. But Beistline said he also needed to consider "the impact on victims, the potential turmoil, and the cost to the United States if (Nadia Rockwood) is permitted to return at this time."

Paul Rockwood, a government weatherman in King Salmon, had converted to Islam in 2001 or 2002 while living in Virginia, according to charging documents. He gradually became radicalized, becoming an adherent of the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born jihadist famed for using modern media techniques from a hideout in Yemen.

Rockwood, with lots of free time and a government computer, began compiling a list of enemies, including soldiers, a religious institution and a publishing company, prosecutors said. He also studied techniques for assassination, including the use of cellphone triggers and mail bombs.

In visits to Anchorage, he befriended someone he thought was like-minded but who turned out to be an undercover state trooper. Before he was sentenced, his public defender told the court: "The two of them spent many recorded hours talking about the Middle East, the Koran, the relationship of Israel and Palestine, the various American war actions in the Middle East and Afghanistan, injustices perpetrated on Muslim people and methods of avenging these injustices."

According to charging documents, Nadia took the list with her on a shopping trip to Anchorage and delivered it to the undercover officer. She later acknowledged knowing the list contained people whom her husband thought were enemies, but denied believing they were targeted for execution.

On May 19, 2010, the Rockwoods and their 4-year-old son left King Salmon, planning to move to Nadia Rockwood's home in England for the birth of their second child. They were stopped at the airport in Anchorage and interviewed by federal agents. Both denied the truth about the hit list, and both were charged with lying to federal officers.

They pleaded guilty and were sentenced Aug. 23. Paul Rockwood got eight years in prison. Nadia received probation, which she was required to serve outside the United States.

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