A former Marine sharpshooter from Modesto agreed to a plea deal on Monday, to 15 years in prison for conspiring a Christmas Day terror attack at Pier 39 in San Francisco.
Everitt Aaron Jameson, 26, pleaded guilty to attempting to aid a terrorist organization.
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Jameson could have served 40 years in prison if he had gone to trial, SF Gate News reported.
Jameson, a former tow truck driver, has two young children.
The former Marine was discharged from the military following an allergic reaction to a bee sting.
Jameson later converted to Islam and started following radical messages on the internet.
His wife was arrested after attacking Jameson with a knife, and he then lost custody of his children, defense attorney Charles Lee said.
The series of events sent Jameson down a dark path that ultimately led him to plot a terror attack, Lee said.
“It’s understandable, at the time, that he was very distraught and emotional and very susceptible to certain suggestions. He’s in a different place now that there’s some distance from those events,” Lee said.
Jameson “liked” and “loved” pro-Islamic and pro-terrorism posts on Facebook.
An unidentified informant alerted the FBI on Sept. 19, 2017, that Jameson had suspicious posts on his Facebook account, the complaint stated.
Undercover agents reached out to Jameson on Dec. 11, 2017, about plans for a possible terrorist attack.
Jameson was enthusiastic about the idea, the complaint said.
Just days after the first undercover FBI agent spoke to Jameson, a second one, posing as a subservient of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, met with Jameson in person to discuss the attack.
“Jameson specifically named Pier 39 in San Francisco as a target location because he had been there before and knew that it was a heavily crowded area and that, according to Jameson, no reconnaissance or site survey would be necessary,” the FBI agent explained.
After an FBI employee dialed Jameson’s phone from a Washington, D.C., phone number by mistake and then hung up after he answered in Arabic, Jameson said: “I also don’t think I can do this after all. I’ve reconsidered.”
The undercover agent said: “We can only do Allah’s will.”
Jameson reportedly replied: “Inshallah [God willing] one day I can. But I can’t.”
Jameson’s attorney argued that his client never took any tangible steps toward carrying out the attack.
“At the end of the day, he told the undercover (informant) that he thought it over and he couldn’t go through with it. But at the same time, Mr. Jameson is taking accountability for what he did agree to at one point,” Lee said.