HOUSTON | Before his arrest for allegedly plotting against the United States, Ronald A. Grecula of the Bangor area expressed his happiness about the destruction of the World Trade Center, his estranged wife said Wednesday.
Grecula also boasted that he could build a bomb stronger than the one that killed hundreds at the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, according to Monique Grecula. But he didn't talk about actually building a bomb, she explained.
''He said it was very easy to make it the way they made it,'' she recounted, referring to the Oklahoma City conspirators. ''He said an idiot can build a bomb.''
Only 30 miles from where her estranged husband is being held by federal authorities, Monique Grecula talked about her life with a man who had become increasingly anti-American during their nearly 10 years together.
Grecula, who has experience trying to develop alternative energy sources, is accused of plotting to sell bomb-making technology to al-Qaida.
After the Greculas separated in 1999, she and her boyfriend, Manuel Mireles, ultimately moved from Pennsylvania to Texas to be away from Grecula. They worried he would try to have one or both of them killed so he could regain custody of the Greculas' two children.
Monique Grecula and Mireles have lived in fear of the man who once threatened them with a knife and beat her so badly she had two black eyes.
Even the maximum potential prison term for Grecula 15 years is not enough, according to Mireles. ''I will never feel safe as long as he's alive,'' he said.
The FBI allegedly found evidence that Grecula took at least one step to have his estranged wife killed. In the affidavit for the bomb case, the FBI alleges that Grecula requested help from an FBI informant in finding a contract killer to do away with his wife.
But despite considering him a threat to their safety, Monique Grecula and Mireles never considered him a threat to national security.
Grecula, 68, faces a bail hearing in federal court in Houston this afternoon. He is charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist group.
Authorities who searched his office in Upper Mount Bethel Township said they found lithium nitrate a chemical used in fireworks and flares and a mercury switch that could be used to trigger a bomb.
The FBI arrested him Friday after he allegedly met with two undercover agents, posing as representatives of al-Qaida, and offered to develop a bomb that would have destructive power second only to nuclear bombs.
Monique Grecula, 35, remains legally married to Grecula because of problems she has had divorcing him.
But she has moved on with her life in other ways. She has a 2-year-old daughter with Mireles, a fellow flight attendant.
And in the last several weeks, the couple bought an English Tudor-style house, with an in-ground pool, on a quiet suburban street in Spring, Texas, near Houston. They live there with the two children she had with Grecula now 7 and 14 years old their dog and the 2-year-old.
Monique Grecula has long dark hair, light skin and a cherubic face. She giggled at times, despite the seriousness of the subject.
When she was 19 and living in her native France, she met Grecula, who was traveling on business and still involved in his first marriage.
During their courtship, he gave her furs and took her to fancy restaurants. Despite a 33-year age difference, they moved to the United States and married in 1991, eventually settling in the Poconos.
''I was very mesmerized by him,'' she said in a French accent. ''He was very charming I was happy somebody loved me so much.''
But over time, Grecula changed or her perception of him changed as she matured and her English language skills increased. His changes also might have been triggered by depression, she said.
In 1997, she said, he tied her up with her hands behind her back, then he tied her hands to her ankles. Then he hit her with his fists. And he put her face down on the concrete floor of their garage, striking her head against the floor and causing her to pass out. She had black eyes for months.
He may have regretted it, however. ''After that,'' she said, ''he always brought me flowers and took care of me like a baby.''
She said she found out later that he'd also been repeatedly hitting their son, causing bruises, acts Grecula later described as corporal punishment.
He also began to talk about conspiracy theories about ''evil forces'' behind the U.S. government. He said the World Trade Center was a symbol of the devil. ''He was really happy when it was destroyed,'' she said.
And he became a religious fanatic. ''He was always talking about the end of the world and the apocalypse.''
In 1999, she left him. ''I could not live with all this brainwashing.''
In 2000, he abducted his children. Fourteen months later, with the help of a private investigator, Monique Grecula found them in Malta, and she was reunited with her children. Every night while they were missing, she cried about them.
Two months ago, Grecula showed up in Houston and contacted her. He stayed in the area for several weeks, and she let him have supervised visits with the children on three consecutive weekends.
While there, he referred to a possible breakthrough on energy technology but said nothing about developing a bomb, according to Mireles.
''He said he had something big going on,'' Mireles said. ''He might not have to worry about money after that.''Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times