A man who pleaded guilty to trying to join the Islamic State terrorist group was sentenced Monday to the maximum of 20 years in prison and will be under supervised release for the rest of his life after that, WCSC reports.
Zakaryia Abdin was 18 when police arrested him as he boarded a plane in Charleston, South Carolina for Amman, Jordan, in 2017, federal prosecutors said. He pleaded guilty last year.
“Abdin’s attempt to provide material support to ISIS by traveling overseas put American lives at risk,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said after the guilty plea. “That is unacceptable, and I applaud the dedicated agents and prosecutors who stopped him and have achieved this successful outcome.”
Abdin, of Ladson, South Carolina, tried to reach out to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, starting in 2017 as the terror group was waging a bloody war in Iraq and Syria to establish a new Caliphate, prosecutors said.
He thought he was in contact with an ISIS commander online, but he was actually talking to an FBI agent, according to the Department of Justice.
“During the course of these on line conversations, Abdin expressed continued loyalty to ISIS. He said he had given a pledge of loyalty to the Caliphate in 2014 and provided a video of a new pledge to Commander Abu Baker al Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of ISIS or the Caliphate, in which he pledged to ‘wage jihad against the enemy of Allah,’” prosecutors said.
Abdin got a passport and booked a ticket to Jordan, the feds said, and he told the undercover FBI agent, “let the brothers know I am coming very soon.”
Federal officers arrested Abdin after he checked into his flight March 30, 2017, according to the DOJ.
“Once again, the Joint Terrorism Task Force has uncovered, investigated and prevented terrorist activity with roots in South Carolina” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jody Norris. “These results are made possible by the coordinated efforts of our federal, state and local partners, who are committed to sharing information and resources to protect our communities.”
This was not the first time Abdin was accused in a terrorism-related case. In 2015, authorities accused Abdin of planning to kill U.S. soldiers after robbing a gun store, the Rock Hill Herald reports. The then-16-year-old had a handgun and an ISIS flag hanging in his bedroom when he was arrested in York, South Carolina, according to the newspaper.