Becoming the 'terrorists next door' in an Alaska village

December 22, 2011 

Paul Rockwood Jr., the former King Salmon weather forecaster convicted of terrorism after an FBI sting, has given his first interview from prison to the Los Angeles Times. Rockwood pleaded guilty to domestic terrorism in July after compiling a kill list of targets he believed were hostile to Islam. His wife is on probation in England for her role in the crime. From the Times:

Since their arrest in 2010 - accused by the FBI of drafting and delivering a list of targets for terrorist attacks - friends and neighbors have been left in confusion, wondering how the nice young couple could have turned into the terrorists next door.

The possible answer, provided in Rockwood's first interview since his arrest, opens a window on one man's uncertain spiritual journey and radicalization after the Sept. 11 attacks. It also offers a look at the government's increasingly deep dragnet for suspected domestic terrorists.

To federal authorities, Rockwood, 36, is a man who turned from hard-partying bartender and ex-Navy seaman to Muslim militant committed to killing fellow Americans.

To Rockwood, the plot involving targeted assassinations and bombs was a "pure fantasy" created by a government agent he thought was his friend, a common refrain in the nation's burgeoning number of "home-grown" terrorism plots prosecuted since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Prosecutors tell the Times that Rockwood is still lying. "He researched the means to select targets, and his looking for people to kill and how to kill them was well before law enforcement got involved," said Karen Loeffler, U.S. attorney in Alaska.

Read more.

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