ORLANDO, Fla. - Federal prosecutors said in court Thursday that it was the good work of the FBI that foiled a terrorism plot being cooked up in central Florida by local imam Marcus Robertson and his recruit, Jonathan Jimenez.
They said the plot included going overseas and waging jihad, or holy war, against U.S. military there, even through suicide bombing if that's what it would take.
Prosecutors said Jimenez was recorded saying that, "al-Qaida existed in Orlando ... existed in the form of Marcus Robertson."
Prosecutors called Jimenez a dangerous man, who said after he was arrested, that he would carry out his plans for jihad after he gets out of prison, and if that was not possible, he would do it on U.S. soil.
His mother cried in court as she heard prosecutors divulge more details in the case.
Jimenez could face 27 years in
prison after pleading to tax fraud and lying to investigators.
Prosecutors say Jimenez and Robertson filed a false tax return to fund a Jimenez trip to west Africa for terrorist training.
Federal Judge Gregory Presnell asked what Jimenez's motive was. Prosecutors said he espoused the same extremist views shared by other terrorists.
Jimenez asked the judge for mercy, talking about his family and his troubled life. But prosecutors said Jimenez was a loyal recruit and follower of the imam, just the kind of person who would carry out the dangerous plan the two are accused of devising.
Jimenez said in a recorded call that Robertson taught him to target generals because they lead the U.S. Army.
The judge postponed sentencing Jimenez to listen to the recorded phone calls and review other evidence.
The defense wants a nine-year prison sentence.