Pentagon shooter pleads guilty
Yonathan Melaku shown during shooting at the National Museum of the Marine Corps Photo from court exhibit
January 26th, 2012
12:16 PM ET

Pentagon shooter pleads guilty

By CNN's Carol Cratty

A former Marine Corps reservist pleaded guilty Thursday to shooting at the Pentagon and other military-related buildings and to trying to desecrate graves at Arlington National Cemetery containing the remains of veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yonathan Melaku entered a guilty plea to three counts: damaging U.S. property with a firearm, using a firearm in a crime of violence and attempting injury to veterans' memorials on U.S. property.

Melaku, a 23-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Ethiopia, was arrested June 17 at the cemetery. He had a backpack with four plastic bags each containing 5 pounds of ammonium nitrate, material commonly used in homemade explosives. He also had numerous 9 mm spent shell casings; black paint and a notebook with Arabic statements mentioning al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and the "Path to Jihad."

In the statement of facts document signed by Melaku, he admitted he "intended to desecrate and injure grave markers by spray-painting the markers with Arabic statements and by leaving the ammonium nitrate he was carrying at the sites of these grave markers."

Melaku did not have all the components needed to make a bomb. In a search of his home, investigators found a typed list that included various components including batteries, wire and a "digital kitchen countdown timer." But he had not obtained all of those items.

Melaku admitted to five shootings with a legally owned handgun at military buildings in Northern Virginia between October 17 and November 2 of 2010. He said he attacked the Pentagon, Marine and Coast Guard recruiting offices and he twice fired at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

The government released a video Melaku made himself showing his second attack at the Marine Corps museum in Quantico, Virginia, on October 29. Recorded Arabic music is heard in the background as Melaku drives down an interstate talking about his target. "Last time I hit them, they turned off the lights," Melaku is heard saying. "Punks! Now, here we go again. This time, I'm going to turn it off permanently."

Melaku then says, "That's the target. That's the military building that's going to, gonna get attacked."

Melaku's face in shown on part of the video but he's also seen wearing a black hood as he prepares to shoot at the museum, although the building is not visible on the video. Shots ring out in rapid succession.

Then Melaku excitedly yells, "Allahu Akbar" several times and also sings along with the recorded music playing in his car.

According to court documents, the five military building shootings caused more than $100,000 in damage.

Melaku, wearing a green jail jumpsuit on Thursday, spoke only to respond to questions from U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. Asked how he was pleading to the three counts against him Melaku replied, "Guilty, sir."

After the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said Melaku indicated in the video he made at the Marine museum shooting that his intention was to "create fear and terror, which is what terrorists do" and that he wanted to shut down the building.

Boente also said Melaku had "a large amount of jihadist material on his computer."

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jacqueline Maguire would not list which websites Melaku used, but said a search of the computer shows he was "conducting research" relating to the list of needed bomb components found at his home.

U.S. officials have said Melaku has no ties to any terrorist groups and appears to have acted alone.

Prior to the plea deal, Melaku faced the possibility of life in prison if convicted on all charges. But the plea agreement calls for him to serve 25 years followed by five years of supervised release. He will be sentenced on April 27.

Melaku offered no explanation for his actions at Thursday's hearing. His defense lawyer, Gregory English, asked that his client receive a mental examination and suggested he might need some treatment while in prison.

English emphasized Melaku was competent and understood the legal proceedings, but said his parents were concerned he might have problems with anger management or post-traumatic stress. Judge Lee said it was an unusual request since no mental issues were raised before the guilty plea, but he said he would consider the matter.

Melaku joined the Marine Reserves in August of 2007 but was never deployed overseas. At the time of his arrest in June last year, a military official told CNN Melaku had failed a combat fitness test about a month before the first military building shooting. The official said he later did poorly on a physical and was listed as non-deployable.

Post by:
Filed under: Legal • Military
soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. probate Spokane

    Wow this blog is very nice!

    https://www.google.com/maps?cid=11933253185015063857

    June 30, 2021 at 8:40 am | Reply
  2. Relentless Collision

    I really like this post

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Relentless+Collision/@35.8167572,-78.597496,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xecfa0d223ab3249d!8m2!3d35.8167572!4d-78.597496

    June 30, 2021 at 8:21 am | Reply
  3. auto body repair shop raleigh

    thanks for sharing!

    https://www.statesidemovie.com/what-to-do-if-you-want-auto-body-repair/

    June 30, 2021 at 8:00 am | Reply
  4. HVAC Repair Fayetteville NC

    Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You're doing a great job Man,Keep it up.

    https://www.startbuyingonebay.com/simple-hvac-repair-upkeep-and-installation-facts/

    June 30, 2021 at 7:09 am | Reply
  5. State Farm Englewood CO

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    https://www.google.com/maps?cid=12039124596540498887

    June 30, 2021 at 6:28 am | Reply
  6. Credit Counseling orlando

    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.

    https://goo.gl/maps/WTPBHu1Md2N2

    June 30, 2021 at 5:38 am | Reply
  7. Credit Counseling orlando

    Wow this blog is very nice!

    https://goo.gl/maps/z5QxDM4xnvD2

    June 30, 2021 at 5:15 am | Reply
  8. Deandrea Cabanillas

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these Second Life websites and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2008/05/more-lovely-books-for-reviewing-heres.html?m=0

    June 21, 2021 at 6:06 pm | Reply
  9. Danna Creekmur

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a online game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl articles and blogs

    http://thethinkingteacherchronicle.blogspot.com/2011/01/

    June 18, 2021 at 12:12 pm | Reply
  10. Rory Stupar

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life websites and blogs

    http://adolit.blogspot.com/2009/11/pedagogy-that-is-culturally-relevant.html

    June 15, 2021 at 4:30 am | Reply
  11. Britany Gollin

    I don't know about you guys but I am obsessed with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2009/10/happy-halloween/

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2012/08/three-books-on-games-learning.html?m=0

    June 13, 2021 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  12. Luba Combee

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a video game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these Second Life articles and blogs

    http://myvedana.blogspot.com/2004/10/new-roles-for-digital-writing-most-new.html?showComment=1358455244588

    June 12, 2021 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  13. After School Program Gambrills MD

    carry on, dont stop

    http://origin-www.gulfstreampark.com/home/the-greatest-racetrack-casino-anywhere21-every-kind-of-entertainment-you-could-possibly-want21?ReturnUrl=http3A2F2Forigin-www.gulfstreampark.com2Fhome2Fthe-greatest-racetrack-casino-anywhere21-every-kind-of-entertainment-you-could-possibly-want21

    June 12, 2021 at 2:58 am | Reply
  14. Relentless Collision

    Impressive! Thanks for the post

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Relentless+Collision/@35.8167572,-78.597496,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xecfa0d223ab3249d!8m2!3d35.8167572!4d-78.597496

    June 12, 2021 at 2:16 am | Reply
  15. auto body shop raleigh

    carry on, dont stop

    https://www.rstandart.com/furthering-your-education-with-a-auto-physique-repair-college/

    June 12, 2021 at 1:54 am | Reply
  16. Stevie Lautenbach

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 11, 2021 at 10:29 am | Reply
  17. auto body repair raleigh nc

    I'm not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic.

    https://www.curvemag-digital.com/help-the-surroundings-with-auto-body-repairs/

    June 11, 2021 at 1:19 am | Reply
  18. Federated Financial

    carry on, dont stop

    https://www.federatedfinancial.com/

    June 11, 2021 at 12:48 am | Reply
  19. payday debt relief

    best i have ever seen!Hello, always i used to check webpage posts here early in the daylight, for the reason that i love to gain knowledge of more and more.

    https://www.theegreetingsportal.com/the-payday-loan-also-named-a-money-advance/

    June 10, 2021 at 7:42 am | Reply
  20. consolidating payday loans

    very interesting , good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.

    https://pr9websites.com/learn-about-advance-payday-loans/

    June 10, 2021 at 7:23 am | Reply
  21. pressure washing services Brevard County

    Keep this going please, great job!

    https://marvelcomics.faith/wiki/How_Considerably_Will_a_Pressure_Washing_Assistance_Price_You

    June 10, 2021 at 6:15 am | Reply
  22. pressure washing services cocoa beachd fl

    Thanks for the information.

    https://menwiki.men/wiki/A_Brief_Overview_of_Strain_Washing_Assistance_for_Roof_Cleansing

    June 10, 2021 at 4:49 am | Reply
  23. pressure washing cocoa beach fl

    I'm not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic.

    https://minecraftcommand.science/forum/discussion/topics/best-laser-printer-with-scanner-for-office-use?page=3

    June 10, 2021 at 4:28 am | Reply
  24. pressure washing near cocoa beach fl

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    https://www.folkd.com/submit/ccm.net/profile/user/robbburton1/

    June 10, 2021 at 3:08 am | Reply
  25. pressure washing merritt island

    Impressive! Thanks for the post

    http://svenstrupmueller23.jigsy.com/entries/general/Pressure-Washing-Expert-services–Finest-Way-to-Revamp-Your-Home

    June 10, 2021 at 2:37 am | Reply
  26. pressure washing around merritt island fl

    I really like this post

    https://www.humandesignforeveryone.com/board/board_topic/5096042/5249568.htm?page=3

    June 10, 2021 at 1:51 am | Reply
  27. pressure washing around melbourne fl

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://ross35beasley.bravejournal.net/post/2021/05/30/A-Short-Overview-of-Tension-Washing-Support-for-Roof-Cleaning

    June 9, 2021 at 4:42 am | Reply
  28. pressure washing near me

    Very interesting,good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it.You're doing a great job.Keep it up. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://www.cobler.us/board/board_topic/7966425/5536609.htm?page=2

    June 9, 2021 at 3:33 am | Reply
  29. pressure washing melbourne fl

    I am really happy to say it's an interesting post to read . I learn new information from your article , you are doing a great job . Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://getpocket.com/@tunakarate51

    June 9, 2021 at 3:14 am | Reply
  30. Corey Hamman

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 7, 2021 at 7:56 am | Reply
  31. Melodie Lagrow

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 6, 2021 at 3:07 am | Reply
  32. Pressure Washing Sacramento

    Enjoyed reading the article above , really explains everything in detail,the article is very interesting and effective.Thank you and good luck for the upcoming articles. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://www.google.com/maps?cid=17978662104161179375

    June 5, 2021 at 7:56 am | Reply
  33. Truck Accident Attorney Houston TX

    Thank you for this post. Good luck. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://www.google.com/maps?cid=15320961285137417484

    June 5, 2021 at 7:17 am | Reply
  34. Nella Champ

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these sl websites and blogs

    http://lostbiro.com/blog/?cat=2&paged=43

    June 2, 2021 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  35. Seth Seifer

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life articles and blogs

    http://myvedana.blogspot.com/2010/03/decentring-text.html?showComment=1354172218044&m=0

    May 30, 2021 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  36. Professional HVAC services

    Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://hvaccontractorellicottcity.tumblr.com/post/652235246392279040/heating-services-for-the-home-or-workplace

    May 30, 2021 at 8:11 am | Reply
  37. Signature Window Washing

    Really very happy to say,your post is very interesting to read.I never stop myself to say something about it.You're doing a great job.Keep it up. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://windowcleaningdenverco.blogspot.com/2021/05/looking-for-commercial-window-cleaning.html

    May 30, 2021 at 7:44 am | Reply
  38. AC Repair in Miami, FL

    I am really happy to say it's an interesting post to read . I learn new information from your article , you are doing a great job . Keep it up. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://diigo.com/0ko2cv

    May 30, 2021 at 7:25 am | Reply
  39. flooring installation estimate Pittsburgh, PA

    I really like this post. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://www.behance.net/gallery/120239153/Hiring-the-Right-Flooring-Contractor

    May 30, 2021 at 6:51 am | Reply
  40. Air Arms

    I really like this post. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://www.behance.net/gallery/120320541/Airsoft-BB-Guns-No-Childs-Play

    May 30, 2021 at 6:33 am | Reply
  41. Federated Financial

    Very interesting,good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it.You're doing a great job.Keep it up. Flooring Installers of Pittsburgh, 1933 Crafton Blvd #5, Pittsburgh, PA 15205, (412) 415-7629

    https://www.behance.net/gallery/120248015/Debt-Consolidation-Company-Select-With-Caution

    May 30, 2021 at 6:15 am | Reply
  42. NV locksmith llc Las Vegas

    Thanks for the information.

    https://www.behance.net/gallery/119414055/Help-In-Finding-a-Professionally-Trained-Locksmith

    May 30, 2021 at 5:55 am | Reply
  43. Locksmith Palo Alto

    A great read. I'll definitely be back.

    https://www.behance.net/gallery/119417489/Need-Commercial-Locksmith-Experts

    May 30, 2021 at 5:35 am | Reply
  44. siding contractors Hainesport

    A great read. I'll definitely be back.

    https://roofinghainesport.blogspot.com/2021/05/commercial-roofer-choose-right-one-for.html

    May 30, 2021 at 5:06 am | Reply
  45. Tile Cleaning Spokane

    Commenting on a blog is an art. Good comments create relations. You're doing great work. Keep it up.

    https://diigo.com/0kj9hl

    May 30, 2021 at 4:40 am | Reply
  46. AC Repair Warrenton VA

    best i have ever seen!Hello, always i used to check webpage posts here early in the daylight, for the reason that i love to gain knowledge of more and more.

    https://diigo.com/0kj86q

    May 30, 2021 at 3:55 am | Reply
  47. Layne Zager

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these Second Life articles and blogs

    http://lostbiro.com/blog/?paged=90

    May 29, 2021 at 2:57 am | Reply
  48. Kristyn Vondran

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life websites and blogs

    http://amusingspace.blogspot.com/2013/09/writing-peer-review-article-in-one-month.html

    May 28, 2021 at 2:45 am | Reply
  49. fayetteville nc hvac repairs near me

    Interesting stuff to read. Keep it up.

    https://www.waltzwiththedevilrpg.com/most-common-hvac-repair-issues/

    May 24, 2021 at 10:36 am | Reply
  50. Linsey Ainsley

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl authors and blogs

    http://myvedana.blogspot.com/2009/06/more-immediate.html?showComment=1449805673865&m=0

    May 23, 2021 at 2:09 am | Reply
  51. Cesar Bacik

    I don't know about you people but I infatuated with airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/07/awesome-carbon-fiber-seats-on-qantas-airbus-a380s/

    http://www.pseconline.org/pipermail/reps_pseconline.org/2012-November/000869.html

    May 21, 2021 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  52. Idella Shadowens

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://thisteachinglife.blogspot.com/2005_10_01_archive.html

    May 20, 2021 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  53. Tamie Brunfield

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2014/09/latest-book-in-our-series-learning.html?showComment=1564066860484

    May 19, 2021 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  54. Laquita Grabarczyk

    I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/04/is-boeing-trying-to-make-a-real-effort-to-connect-with-fans/

    http://urlm.co/g/c/f/163871

    May 19, 2021 at 1:35 am | Reply
  55. Rory Stupar

    I don't know about you people but I infatuated with airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/04/in-flight-back-to-seattle-before-stopping-at-milwaukee/

    http://www.pseconline.org/pipermail/reps_pseconline.org/2013-October/000980.html

    May 17, 2021 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  56. Raisa Cuthbertson

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life articles and blogs

    http://beyondnewhorizons.com/2009/03/joomla-cool/

    May 16, 2021 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  57. Britt Gelabert

    I don't know about you people but I infatuated with airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2011/03/faa-orders-airlines-to-remove-oxygen-tanks-due-to-safety-concerns/

    http://www.tulalipnews.com/wp/category/news/page/317/

    May 16, 2021 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  58. 24 hour locksmith St. Louis

    Fairly high-quality explanation. continue the good work

    https://justpaste.it/Micheline-Trimble

    May 15, 2021 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  59. Roofer Hainesport

    Impressive! Thanks for the post

    https://www.4shared.com/folder/8GqLROcA/_online.html

    May 15, 2021 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  60. Area Rug Cleaning Spokane

    This blog is great check it out

    https://www.screencast.com/users/guidryseeleyetha/folders/Carpet20Cleaning20Spokane

    May 15, 2021 at 11:29 am | Reply
1 2

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.