LEESBURG, Va. — A Marine Corps reservist arrested in a security scare near the Pentagon last week was charged Thursday in a series of pre-dawn shootings at military buildings in the Washington area last year.
Federal prosecutors said in court documents that they found bomb-making materials in a backpack carried by 22-year-old Yonathan Melaku as well as inside his home. They also said authorities discovered a video he took of himself firing shots outside one building last fall and repeatedly saying the Arabic words "Allahu Akbar," which means "God is Great."
He was detained for trespassing inside Arlington National Cemetery early Friday and was found with a quantity of ammonium nitrate, which is widely used in explosives; a spiral notebook containing references to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden; and spent 9 mm shell casings.
Melaku, who was scheduled to appear in court Thursday on unrelated larceny charges, was charged Thursday with two counts each of damaging federal property with a gun and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. He was accused in shootings at military buildings last October, including at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and a Marine recruiting station. No one was injured in any of the shootings.
The FBI said at the time that the shooter was likely someone with a gripe against the military. The Marine Corps said this week that it was in the process of trying to remove Melaku from the service because of his arrest several weeks ago on unrelated grand larceny charges in Virginia.
An official has said Melaku has no known ties to al-Qaida or any other terrorist organization.