A former marine reservist who waged a spree of overnight shootings targeting military monuments and facilities, including the Pentagon, in the fall of 2010 pleaded guilty Thursday to three felony charges.
Yonathan Melaku was arrested in the middle of the night last June as he moved to an area of Arlington National Cemetery where veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are buried. His backpack contained black spray paint, which investigators say he planned to use to deface grave markers, and a notebook in which he had written about the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.
Melaku, a naturalized American citizen from Ethiopia, wanted "to create fear and terror, which is what terrorists do," prosecutors said, by attacking military sites with impunity. His bedroom closet at home also contained bomb making materials. He videotaped at least one of the shootings, wearing black mask and shouting "Allahu Akbar" after he fired.Melaku faces 25 years in prison for the shootings, which caused an estimated $111,000 in damage to the federal facilities. Although his initial attacks injured no one, authorities stated that the discovery of the bomb suggested an uptick in Melaku's violent aims