The US Attorney’s Office accused a man in California on Friday of planning a terrorist attack that was supposed to be committed at Christmas in one of the main tourist spots in San Francisco. According to the State Department’s complaint in federal courts in Sacramento, Aaron Jameson, a 39-year-old tow truck driver, had embraced jihadism influenced by ISIS.
Jameson’s arrest culminates an investigation that began in September when a confidant called the attention of the FBI on a suspicious Facebook account that was evaluated as “I like” and “I love” messages that joked about terrorist attacks in New York at Christmas.
The FBI explains in his complaint, exchanged private messages with Jameson in which he said he was completely committed to the jihadist cause.
On October 27, Jameson wrote a message to the confidant in which he said: ” Salam Aleikum, waramatu Allah wabarakatu (‘peace be upon you, and the goodness and blessings of Allah’), here I am to beg to join the cause against darul kufar (‘the land of the infidels’). I’m ready”. The FBI informant answered: “Patience.”
Two days later, Jameson makes clear in another exchange that he is offering what he believes is a terrorist organization to collaborate.
Presume that he is an American convert (“that’s what makes me more useful, I can go unnoticed”). According to his messages, he became a Muslim two years ago at the Islamic Center of Merced, California. His interlocutor then draws attention to the fact that Jameson works as a driver of a towing car. “I am a crane driver,” he replies. “So I can also offer those services.”
On October 31, a man killed eight people in New York by running them with a van, in what the police consider an Islamist-inspired temptation. Five of the dead were Argentine tourists riding a bicycle. The attacker was an Uzbek immigrant, Sayfullo Saipov, who acted in the name of ISIS.
That day, Jameson reacted on Facebook to a message about the attack by putting a gif-like image in which a public was standing up in a standing ovation. In subsequent messages with the FBI source, he praised Saipov’s action. “The kuffar deserve everything and more for the lives they have taken away.”
The next phase of the investigation began in early December when Jameson was contacted by an undercover FBI agent who posed as a direct contact with “the sheikhs,” who wanted to know if Jameson was “ready.” The defendant responded with enthusiasm. Later, he states that “I was a soldier in the kuffar army before I became a soldier. I have been trained in combat and in the things of war. ”
Indeed, Jameson was in the Marine Corps of the United States Army and did basic training in June 2009. During his training, he received a qualification as a sniper. Jameson was expelled from the Marines for having lied in a form in which he hid that he had asthma.
In subsequent meetings with another undercover FBI agent, Jameson again insisted that he was willing to “do anything” for the jihadist cause.
The agent who writes the story explains that up to three times he told him to go home to think about what he was saying, but that Jameson rejected the suggestion and insisted he was ready to attack. On one occasion, he mentioned that he was thinking of something “like San Bernardino”.
On December 2, 2015, a married couple of Pakistani origin (the American and her immigrant) shot and killed 14 people and wounded 22 others in the San Bernardino city of California during a Christmas party of his coworkers. The couple, who had not raised suspicions before, had radicalized on the Internet and had an arsenal at home.
Jameson then specifically mentioned Pier 39, an outdoor mall located on one of San Francisco’s docks. “I had been there before and I knew it was a very busy area,” says the complaint.
The plan that Jameson imagined was to use explosives to take the crowd to an area and there shoot them with an assault rifle, which he hoped would be provided by the terrorist organization.
He offered to do it at any time, but later he said that Christmas would be the perfect day to commit the attack. To questions from the undercover agent, “he said he did not need a flight plan because he was ready to die.” Jameson had even prepared a “half page” statement to be read after his death.
Last Wednesday, December 20, the FBI searched the home of Aaron Jameson in Modesto, California. There he found the handwritten note in which he assumed the authorship of the hypothetical attack and proclaimed long life to ISIS and its leader, Abu Baker Al Bagdadi.
They also found two 45-millimeter loaders, a 22-gauge Winchester rifle, a Ruger M77 sports rifle, a 9-millimeter Sturm Ruger gun and various ammunition. During the search, Jameson told the agents that he supported ISIS and that he would be glad if there was an attack.
The detainee will appear before the central courts of Sacramento, California, on December 28 at 2 pm local time. He faces 20 years in prison.