WASHINGTON — A Virginia man pleaded guilty Wednesday to providing material support to a US-designated terrorist group and making threats against the writers of the popular “South Park” television show.
Zachary Adam Chesser faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison upon his sentencing in February, officials said.
On charges of inciting violent attacks within the United States, Chesser admitted that in May this year he posted personal information of individuals who joined the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” group on Facebook.
On jihadist websites, he passed on the contact details and wrote: “Just a place to start.”
He pleaded “guilty to taking repeated steps in April 2010 to encourage violent jihadists to attack the writers of South Park for their depiction of Mohammed, including highlighting their residence and urging online readers to ‘pay them a visit,'” the US Justice Department said in a statement.
Chesser, 20, also pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab Islamists, which the US State Department designates as a foreign terrorist organization.
He twice attempted to travel to travel to Somalia with the aim of joining the Shebab “and engage in violent jihad as a foreign fighter,” officials said.
In an effort to “densensitize law enforcement,” Chesser also admitted to placing suspicious-looking but innocent packages in public places, so authorities would possibly later not be alerted to a explosive device.
After his explaining his actions online, Chesser wrote “Boom! No more kuffar,” meaning disbeliever, officials said.
Chesser “seriously endangered the lives of innocent people who will remain at risk for many years to come,” said US Attorney Neil MacBride, noting that once the 20-year-old posted personal information it could be passed on to others to carry out his threats.
“His solicitation of extremists to murder US citizens also caused people throughout the country to fear speaking out — even in jest — lest they also be labeled as enemies who deserved to be killed,” MacBride added in a statement.
“In admitting his guilt today, Mr Chesser reminded us of the serious threat homegrown jihadists pose to this country,” he said.