York Police Chief on teen who allegedly plotted to join ISIS
The teen wanted to kill police, American soldiers and anyone else who got in his way, court and parole board testimony showed.
Late Thursday, the fears of York County police were realized. The FBI arrested Zakaryia Abdin, 18, at the Charleston airport for trying to help ISIS and join ISIS.
Abdin, of Syrian heritage, was tried and convicted in York County Family Court in 2015, then paroled in 2016. Because he was a juvenile, his name was never publicly released.
The Herald, which covered his conviction and parole hearings, did not name Abdin at the time because he was prosecuted as a juvenile.
Federal prosecutors released his name Friday, saying Abdin, now an adult, was again trying to help a terrorist group.
York Police Chief Andy Robinson confirmed to The Herald that Abdin, charged by the FBI, is the person charged and convicted in York as a juvenile.
Robinson and other officers from the York Police Department and York County Sheriff’s Office appeared twice before the S.C. Juvenile Parole Board in 2016.
They pleaded with the board not to release Abdin from jail before age 21, when his sentence would end.
Now, federal officials say that Abdin was set to join ISIS again.
Robinson said he is outraged that Abdin was out of jail.
“We tried to protect the people of this community, this state and America by arresting him and asking that he be kept in jail after he was convicted,” Robinson said Friday.
“We did the best we could,” Robinson said. “But the parole board let him out. It is aggravating that now the federal government can prosecute him because he is 18, when they couldn’t when he was a juvenile.”
Robinson said he and other police made it clear to the parole board that they believed Abdin was a threat to national security and the American people.
Abdin and another unnamed extremist were stopped before a 2015 plot was executed to rob a gun store in North Carolina, then attack troops at military bases near Raleigh, N.C.
Abdin told the juvenile parole board and a judge when he pleaded guilty that he was a changed person after being in juvenile jail and that he never plotted to join ISIS, despite the overwhelming evidence presented in juvenile court.
Abdin, a former York Comprehensive High School student, was arrested in York in February 2015 with a gun, an ISIS flag, electronic material that linked him to ISIS abroad and to the other alleged Islamic extremist, and a floor plan of the gun store where authorities say a robbery was planned.
“He was just as much a threat then as he is now, and this shows it,” said Robinson. “All I can say is, I am happy they got him before he hurt or killed somebody. Or a lot of people.”
Check back for developments on this story.