Sunday, January 13, 2013
Ethiopian Muslim immigrant crime: A former Marine has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for firing shots at the Pentagon and other military facilities in 2010, but federal prosecutors said that it was just the start of a violent campaign to register his anger at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Yonathan Melaku, 24, told investigators that he wanted people to “be afraid for supporting the war,” so he fired at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle twice, the Pentagon, and then at Marine Corps and Coast Guard recruiting centers in Northern Virginia. When he believed that the public wasn’t heeding his message, he planned to deface 2,379 graves at Arlington National Cemetery, shoot at more buildings and then blow up a military fuel tanker truck, according to court documents. “A terrorist instills fear in the public, and that’s exactly what you did,” U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said before he sentenced Melaku in federal court in Alexandria. “You remind me of the snipers.” Melaku was arrested in June 2011 at Arlington National Cemetery before he could carry out the rest of his campaign. He had a backpack full of spent shells, ammonium nitrate (a component of homemade explosives) and spray paint that he planned to use to scrawl Arabic phrases on the tombstones of those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In January 2012, Melaku reached a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to three charges related to the shootings: injuring property of the United States, use of a firearm during a crime of violence and attempted injury to veterans’ memorials on U.S. property. The agreement called for a 25-year sentence. Melaku was born in Ethiopia and raised in Northern Virginia. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2007 and became a naturalized citizen in 2009.