Pentagon Shooting Suspect a “Loyal American”

Yonathan Melaku, accused of firing shots at the Pentagon in October and November of 2010, has made his initial court appearance to face federal charges for the attacks.  The federal case had been on hold while his unrelated larceny case was resolved; it was that case that led to his dismissal from the Marines days after he was arrested.

Melaku was arrested and charged in June after he was spotted in Arlington National Cemetery after dark in an incident that sparked a massive security scare in and around the Pentagon, which is near the cemetery.

A court affidavit says he was carrying a backpack with ammonium nitrate, which can be used in explosives, and a notebook containing references in Arabic to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida and “the path to jihad,” which included a reference to “defeat coalition and allies and America.”

Melaku’s lawyer Gregory English implied his possession of the notebook might be an effort to “understand” the enemy.

He might have more to worry about:

Prosecutor Neil Hammerstrom told the judge that the government…may present evidence at Thursday’s hearing that includes a videotape that Melaku purportedly made while firing shots at the museum in Quantico. A court affidavit quotes Melaku on the tape saying, “That’s what they get. That’s my target. That’s the military building. It’s going to be attacked.”

Initial reporting on the shootings and his arrest downplayed any tie with terrorism or religion, despite the fact the video mentioned above may include him repeating “Allahu Akbar” as he fired on the buildings.