A man accused of joining a training network to wage jihad against the United States pleaded guilty in a Florida court Tuesday to tax fraud and lying to federal agents, but his defense team said that he never intended to carry out the violent plans he shared with an FBI informant.
Federal prosecutors allege Jonathan Paul Jimenez moved to Central Florida from New York in late 2010 to train "in the skills necessary to participate in violent jihad overseas," including martial arts, use of firearms and knives, reading the Quran and Arabic, according to a court document summarizing FBI findings.
Authorities say that in July 2011, co-defendant Marcus Dwayne Robertson, also known as Abu Taubah, and others helped Jimenez travel to New York where he was to get a visa to travel overseas.
Jimenez was arrested on March 19, 2012, court documents show.
On his 2010 tax return, Jimenez claimed as dependents three children who were not his own, but those of Robertson, according to the indictment.
On Tuesday, Jimenez admitted to tax fraud.
He also admitted that he had lied to federal agents when they confronted him about planned terrorist acts that he had shared earlier in recorded conversations with an informant. According to the indictment, Jimenez told the agents "that he had never told anyone that he had been thinking about asking Allah to die as a martyr or a shaheed in jihad, that he never told anyone that he did not want to just be in the battle but that he wanted to also die on the battlefield."
"I'm willing to accept full responsibility for my actions, sir," Jimenez told U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory J. Kelly at Tuesday's hearing, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
But defense attorney W. Drew Sorrell said Jimenez never planned to carry out the attacks he shared with the informant, the Sentinel said.
Instead, according to the attorney, Jimenez — described by the Sentinel as a 28-year-old with a ninth-grade education — made the statements as a form of "chest bumping" in order to impress the informant.
"I feel ashamed of my behavior," Jimenez said, the Sentinel reported. "I never intended to do that but want to accept full responsibility for my actions."
Jimenez faces up to 18 years in prison.
Robertson is slated for trial in October, court documents said.
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