Friday, June 17, 2011


A Marine Corps reservist is in custody Friday after he was discovered in Arlington Cemetery overnight with a backpack containing suspicious materials.
Federal authorities are questioning the man, whom the Marine Corps has identified as Lance Cpl. Yonathan Melaku of Alexandria, Va., but have not charged him with any crime. Initially, the suspect fled from police when they approached him, and later he claimed to have ammonium nitrate, a chemical in fertilizer than can be used to make bombs, in his possession.
Officials decided to close roads around the cemetery and Pentagon as a precaution, snarling morning commutes, but the materials he carried and found in his car later were found to be inert, according to spokesman for the FBI and U.S. Park Police, among the agencies involved in the investigation.
Melaku, 22, is of Ethopian descent and is a motor vehicle operator in the Reserves. He had a notebook of handwritten notes that included the words al-Qaida and Taliban and indications he supported them, according to sources.
He appears to have an extensive criminal record in the Washington metro area. In Loudoun County, Melaku has four pending cases for grand larceny stemming from a rash of vehicle break-ins. He also has been stopped multiple times for traffic offenses in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
Federal authorities believe he acted alone and are searching his Fairfax County home.

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