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Drive-by jihadi pleads guilty to shooting at Pentagon

The Virginia resident, who videotaped one of his drive-by attacks on the Pentagon, fired at other buildings and planned to desecrate graves of Iraq and Afghanistan war dead at Arlington National Cemetery.

First Assistant US Attorney Dana Boente, left, and Supervisory Special Agent Jacqueline Maguire of the FBI speak at a press conference after former Marine Yonathan Melaku pled guilty to federal charges.

Evan Vucci/AP

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An Alexandria, Va., man admitted in federal court Thursday that he fired live rounds into the Pentagon and three other government buildings and planned to desecrate graves at Arlington National Cemetery in support of Islamic militants overseas.

Yonathan Melaku pleaded guilty to damaging government property, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, and attempting to damage a veterans’ memorial.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, prosecutors will request a 25-year prison sentence. In addition, Mr. Melaku faces up to $750,000 in fines and restitution of $111,215.98 for the damage he caused to buildings and windows.

US District Judge Bruce Lee accepted Melaku’s plea and set sentencing for April 27 in federal court in Alexandria.

The shootings in the fall of 2010 attracted the attention of the national media and created a perplexing mystery as federal agents attempted to discover who was carrying out the late-night/early morning shootings. No one was injured, but the buildings sustained damage.

In a statement of facts accepted by the court, Melaku acknowledged using a 9mm semi-automatic handgun to carry out the attacks.

On Oct. 17, 2010, he fired ten rounds from the handgun at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va. The shots were fired out his car window as he drove past the building on Interstate 95. Bullet holes were later discovered in several windows and the base of the building.


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