How is a crime classified as ‘domestic terrorism’?
Everitt Aaron Jameson, the Modesto man accused of planning a Christmas terror attack on San Francisco’s Pier 39, was indicted Thursday in U.S District Court in Fresno on a charge of attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically the Islamic State of Iraq, or ISIS.
The indictment says Jameson, 26, was planning to use destructive devices to carry out a murderous rampage on Pier 39. In addition to using pipe bombs, his plan was to “funnel people into an area in order to shoot them,” the indictment says.
But Jameson’s lawyer says in court papers that his client is mentally ill and didn’t have the means to carry out the alleged plot. Attorney Charles Lee from the Federal Defenders office says that during a search of Jameson’s home, authorities didn’t find any bomb-making material. He says the guns found in his home belonged to a relative who owned them legally and had them in a locked gun case that Jameson didn’t have access to.
Lee added that the case is built only on Jameson’s statements posted on his Facebook page.
Court records say that from Oct. 24 to Dec. 20, Jameson was working on the plot. His alleged plan, however, was thwarted by FBI sources and employees who posed as senior ISIS officials. James told them he was well versed in the “Anarchist Cookbook,” a how-to handbook on making explosive devices, the affidavit says. Jameson described how to build pipe bombs out of PVC pipe, gunpowder, nails and BB’s, the affidavit says.
He also asked for “remote timing devices from the person he believed was working for ISIS,” the affidavit says.
According to an FBI affidavit, he told an undercover agent that Christmas Day would be “"the perfect day to commit the attack” and that he “did not need an escape plan because he was ready to die.”
If convicted, Jameson faces up to 20 years in prison.
The FBI has said that Jameson has embraced “radical jihadi beliefs” and posted pro-ISIS items on social media.
He allegedly targeted Pier 39, a popular tourist destination, because he “he had been there before” and determined it would allow him to “funnel” people into a location where he could inflict many casualties, the FBI says in court papers.
The FBI says Jameson was inspired by the terrorist attack by a truck driver on Halloween in New York City, and by the San Bernardino shooting attack in 2015 that left 14 dead. Jameson allegedly told an undercover agent “I have been trained in combat and things of war.”
In 2009, Jameson attended U.S. Marine basic recruit training and obtained a sharpshooter rifle qualification before being discharged for fraudulent enlistment, according to court papers. Jameson failed to disclose a latent asthma history.
Jameson is being held in the Fresno County Jail without bail pending his trial.
He’s due in federal court Friday for his arraignment.