Va. Man Pleads Guilty to Helping Somali Terror Group

Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 4:17 PM EDT
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Va. Man Pleads Guilty to Helping Somali Terror Group

Fairfax County Public Schools

Zachary Chesser

A northern Virginia man best known for threatening the creators of "South Park" for their perceived mockery of the prophet Muhammad pleaded guilty Wednesday to supporting an al-Qaida linked terrorist group.

Zachary Chesser, 20, of Bristow, Va., admitted that he tried to join the al-Shabab terror group in Somalia earlier this year and that he posted online propaganda on their behalf. Court papers allege he took his infant son with him to the airport to make his travel appear more innocuous. It was his second attempt to join al-Shabab, according to court records.

In a hearing Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria, Chesser also pleaded guilty to a count of communicating threats against the writers of "South Park" and a count of soliciting crimes of violence.

Chesser encouraged jihadists to attack the writers of "South Park" by posting online speeches in which Anwar Al-Awlaki explained the Islamic justification for killing those who insult or defame Muhammad, authorities said. Chesser also admitted posting to a jihadist website contact information for people who joined "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" on Facebook.

"The defendant attempted to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and used the Internet to incite violence," Assistant Attorney General David Kris said.

Chesser went online to encourage jihadists to desensitize authorities to potential terrorist acts by deliberately leaving suspicious packages in public, authorities said. He also posted instructions for leaving on jihad online.

Chesser faces a maximum of 30 years in prison. Defense attorneys agreed that they would ask the judge for no less than 20 years.


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