So beloved were Paul Rockwood Jr. and his wife, Nadia, that when they left King Salmon [Alaska] in May to move to England, where Nadia was born, more than 30 people – pretty much their entire circle of friends – showed up at the airport. The choir sang “Wherever You Go,” and “people were just bawling,” said Rebecca Hamon, a friend of the couple.
What none of them could have known was that FBI agents were meeting the small turboprop plane in Anchorage to question the Rockwoods on suspicion of domestic-terrorism-related crimes.
This week, Paul and Nadia Rockwood pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Anchorage to one count of willfully making false statements to the FBI; in Paul Rockwood’s case, it was a statement about domestic terrorism.
The plea agreements state that Rockwood, 35, had become an adherent of extremist Islam who had prepared a list of assassination targets, including U.S. service members. And, though no plot to carry out the killings was revealed, he had researched methods of execution, including guns and explosives, the agreements say.
Federal charging papers said his wife, 36, who is five months pregnant with the couple’s second child, lied to investigators when she denied knowing that an envelope she took to Anchorage in April at her husband’s request contained a list of 15 intended targets. She told FBI agents that she thought the envelope contained a letter or a book. She gave it to an unidentified individual who her husband believed shared his radical beliefs, the FBI said.
Nadia knew exactly what was on the list and what it was for, federal authorities said.
The plea agreements the couple signed said Paul Rockwood converted to Islam in late 2001 or early 2002 while living in Virginia and became a follower of radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, now believed to be living in Yemen.
“This included a personal conviction that it was his religious responsibility to exact revenge by death on anyone who desecrated Islam,” his agreement said.
The couple told neighbors they were Muslim but, other than avoiding pork, never made an issue of their religion. Paul had a beard, but the couple never prayed publicly. Nadia performed Christian and secular songs with the choir in performances at the local chapel; her husband attended with his video camera.
Loukas Barton, a National Park Service archaeologist who lived next door, said the couple’s seeming reticence about discussing their religion may have been because they were, so far as anyone here can remember, the only Muslims who have ever lived in King Salmon.
“It’s not uncommon in a bar here to hear some moron say, ‘I hate Barack Obama because he’s … a terrorist and an Ay-rab.’ And people will swear up and down that he’s a Muslim. Which is really well-informed, right?” Barton said.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.