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Alaska man pleads guilty to terror-related charge

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Suspect had made a hit list of 15 targets, authorities said
  • He was a follower of cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, authorities said
  • Awlaki has been linked to an attack and an attempted attack in the United States

(CNN) -- An Alaskan man who is a follower of a radical Muslim cleric pleaded guilty this week to lying to federal agents who were conducting a terrorism investigation, federal authorities said.

Paul Gene Rockwood, 35, faces a sentence of eight years in prison as part of his plea agreement. His wife, Nadia Rockwood, 36, also pleaded guilty to lying to investigators who were asking questions about Rockwood. She is scheduled to be sentenced to five years of probation.

Rockwood is a follower of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, according to court documents. Al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American cleric, has been linked to the failed Christmas Day bombing and an attack on military base in Fort Hood, Texas.

"Paul Rockwood held a personal conviction that it was his religious responsibility to exact revenge by death on anyone who desecrated Islam, and he began researching possible targets for execution," U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler said in a statement.

Rockwood put together a list of targets and gave the list to his wife, prosecutors said.

"He began sharing his ideas about committing acts of domestic terrorism with others, including the possibility of using mail bombs or killing targets by gunshot to the head. By early 2010, he formalized his list to include 15 specific targets, all outside the state of Alaska," Loeffler said.

Federal agents were able to get the list and Rockwood lied when he was questioned about it, Loeffler said.

This comes after Wednesday's arrest of a 20-year-old U.S. citizen who also allegedly had ties to al-Awlaki. The suspect, Zachary Adam Chesser, is accused of attempting to travel to Somalia to join the designated terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

According to court documents, Chesser exchanged e-mails with al-Awlaki.

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