A former member of the U.S. Marine who pledged allegiance to ISIL said he was motivated to carry out a terror attack in San Francisco by U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.
The Marine, Everitt Aaron Jameson, was planning to bomb a popular destination in San Francisco on Christmas Day. However he was arrested on December 22. If Jameson is found guilty, he would be sentenced to a maximum term of 20 years in prison.
Investigators had found a note that stated Trump’s position on Jerusalem influenced his decision to launch a terror attack. Initial investigation revealed that Jameson converted to Islam shortly after being discharged by the Marines.
Also found in Jameson’s home were a will and an admission that he was responsible for the bombing and other attacks he may plan to execute. The phrase “Long Live ISIL” was included in the note.
In early December, Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Consequently, the U.S. would have to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump’s decision was met with disapproval from several world leaders. In a symbolic vote, the United Nations General Assembly rejected the U.S’s recognition of Jerusalem with a vote of 128 to 9.
Jerusalem is at the heart of tensions between Israel and Palestine which both claim the city as its capital.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed fears that Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would re-ignite extremist tensions between the two regions.
Jameson had been under surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). An FBI agent who went undercover reported that Jameson allegedly asked him to provide him with bomb- making components such as ammunition, powder, tubing and nails.
The FBI agent presented himself as an ISIS follower and was promised financial backing by Jameson courtesy of the radical extremist group. Jameson believed Pier 39 would be the most ideal location to carry out the terror attack.
Pier 39 is a popular tourist attraction in San Francisco. It is built on a pier and houses a shopping complex, restaurants, a video arcade and “The Aquarium on the Bay”. It is estimated that Pier 39 is the most visited place in San Francisco with more than 10 million visitors every year.
Jameson wanted the attack to be a “combination” of the incident in San Bernardino last 2015 and the recent one in New York City during Halloween. The undercover agent said Jameson did not have an escape plan because he was “ready to die”.
In the U.S. Marines, Jameson was a sharp-shooter who was discharged in 2009 for failing to disclose a history of having latent asthma.