By Steve Neavling
Everitt Aaron Jameson was a quiet, struggling 26-year-old former Marine whose young family had just fallen apart when the FBI first came across him in late September.
A tow truck driver living in Modesto, Calif., Jameson had recently converted to Islam and was “liking” pro-ISIS and pro-terrorism Facebook posts. An undercover FBI employee posing an ISIS leader reached out to Jameson, who reportedly was flattered by the attention.
Jameson and the undercover agent communicated over the next two months. Saying he was inspired by the New York City terror attack on Oct. 31 and the mass shooting in San Bernardino in 2015, Jameson told the agent he had been trained in sharpshooting, the M-16 and AK-47, according to the court filing. Jameson said the ideal location for a terror attack was San Francisco’s Pier 39, a popular tourist destination that could result in massive casualties, the FBI alleged.
“He had been there before and knew that it was a heavily crowded area,” an FBI affidavit filed Friday said. “Jameson explained that he also desired to use explosives, and described a plan in which explosives could ‘tunnel’ or ‘funnel’ people into a location where Jameson could inflict casualties.”
The final plan was to attack people at Pier 39 0n Christmas with a pipe bomb and then shoot people as they fled, according to court records. The FBI said Jameson provided the undercover agent with a map and photos of the site and that he “did not need an escape plan because he was ready to die.”
Jameson, who was discharged from the Marines for lying about his asthma, didn’t have the material needed to carry out the attack, so he asked the undercover agent for an assault rifle, ammunition, powder, nails, timers, tubing and remote detonators.
But by late Monday night, Jameson had cold feet and told the undercover agent, “I … don’t think I can do this after all. I’ve reconsidered.”
Still, the FBI secured a warrant Wednesday and searched Jameson’s home, finding a firearms, ammunitions and a note declaring his intent to attack the non-Muslim world.
Following his arrest, media headlines wrongly declared that the FBI “thwarted” or “foiled” the attack, even though Jameson withdrew from the plot.
Jameson has been charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
When Jameson’s parents were notified of their son’s alleged plans, they were in disbelief and said he was incapable of carrying out such an attack without the help and encouragement of the FBI. They said Jameson, normally a kind and gentle man, was depressed after losing custody of his two young children – ages 2 and 3 – while his wife was serving time in jail.
“He lost his kids for good and he was devastated,” his father, Gordon Jameson, told the Modesto Bee .
“He would never hurt people. Not ever. It’s just unbelievable. That’s not who he is,” his father added, saying his son recently turned to Islam for comfort.
“We’d talk about Jesus – not argue, just talk – and he’d say ‘yeah, Dad, we all believe in the same god,'” his father said. “He never once spoke about hate or wanting to hurt anything. He never said anything about wanting to blow people up.”