New charges leveled in terror case

Associated Press
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Federal prosecutors have brought two new charges against a Northern Virginia man accused of offering himself as a fighter to a Somali terrorist group and have charged his wife with making a false statement in connection with the case.

Zachary A. Chesser, who was arrested over the summer and allegedly told FBI agents he had twice tried to travel to Somalia to join the group al-Shabab, was charged Monday in federal court in Virginia with one count of communicating threats and another count of soliciting crimes of violence. Both charges are related to his previous case. The new charges potentially carry a penalty of a total of 15 years in prison.

Chesser, 20, who attended Oakton High School and George Mason University, was charged in July with material support to terrorists, which carries a potential 15-year sentence. Chesser acknowledged to FBI agents that he wanted to travel to Somalia to join al-Shabab, which has been linked to al-Qaeda, according to an FBI affidavit filed over the summer.

Before Chesser's arrest, he was known for posting harsh online warnings to the creators of the animated TV show "South Park," who he said risked death by mocking Muhammad.

Chesser's wife, Proscovia Kampire Nzabanita, was charged Monday with making a false statement, which carries a possible prison sentence of up to eight years.

Chesser tried to fly from New York to Uganda this summer, the affidavit said, but was told he was on the no-fly list and was turned away.

Chesser has not been indicted in the case, and the timeline for doing so has been extended twice. Lawyers often seek an extension of the indictment deadline to work out details of a plea bargain.

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