Just days before Christmas, a man in California is in jail – charged with a plot to mount an attack on a popular San Francisco landmark. According to the complaint against the former US Marine, it was to be an Islamist-inspired attack, for which he was prepared to die. CGTN’s Toby Muse has been looking at how this story unfolded.
The FBI says it has stopped what it calls a radical Islamic terrorist plot to attack San Francisco on Christmas day.
Agents arrested 26-year old former Marine Everitt Aaron Jameson, charging him with “attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization”. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted. When searching Jameson’s home, the FBI found what it called a martyr’s letter, fireworks, two rifles and a handgun.
Jameson had been talking to a man who he believed to be associated with ISIL, but was in fact an undercover FBI agent. In these recorded conversations, Jameson allegedly said that he wanted to attack San Francisco’s famous Pier 39, a zone of restaurants and bars, because it would be crowded.
Jameson also said that Christmas was the perfect day for such an attack and that he was ready to die in the plan. Jameson, who is a convert to Islam, was discharged from the Marines back in 2009.
The FBI nearly tipped the young man off. By accident, an agent phoned Jameson last Monday. When Jameson answered the call in Arabic, the agent hung up. Jameson phoned back and heard the agent’s voicemail greeting, saying that they worked for a federal agency without naming the FBI. This caused Jameson to try to back out of the plot, telling the undercover agent Monday that he could not carry out the attacks.
Jameson is denying the allegations. His father, Gordon Jameson, insisted that his son is innocent.
“It’s just really unbelievable. It’s just hard to fathom right now,” he said. “I don’t really know what to say, how to feel, really. It’s just shocking. That’s my son. Never saw it coming, not at once, you know what I mean? I used to tell him, ‘You think you’re a Muslim. You know what I mean? Like that. And he’s like, ‘no, dad, you know, we’re the nice ones, we’re not like that. I just pray, we’re the same.’
The FBI says that it began tracking Jameson back in September. An informant alerted the FBI to Jameson’s online behavior, including supporting posts justifying Islamic terrorism. That informant received over $2,000 for the tip-off.