An Ohio college student who pleaded guilty to plotting an Islamic State-guided attack on a U.S. military employee and a police station was sentenced to two decades in prison, authorities said Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors said Munir Abdulkader, 22, was directed to carry out an attack in the Cincinnati area by Junaid Hussain, a well-known figure in the Islamic State. According to the details outlined in court documents, Abdulkader had planned to record the military member’s death before attacking the police station.
Hussain, also known as Abu Hussain al-Britani, was a hacker as well as a recruiter for the extremist group, and he was reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike in Syria in August 2015. The Justice Department said that Abdulkader had communicated with Hussain months before the drone strike.
Abdulkader was arrested in May 2015, but the case was not unsealed until July 2016 — more than a year after his arrest and four months after Abdulkader pleaded guilty. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said that the case was sealed until July “due to an ongoing investigation.”
The plea agreement, which can be read here, was signed in February and filed in March. It states that Abdulkader had intended to abduct a military employee at his home, kill this person and film the execution so that it could be used in a propaganda video. After that, Abdulkader intended to assault a police station “using firearms and Molotov cocktails,” the plea agreement said.
Abdulkader told a confidential FBI source that he had talked to members of the Islamic State about the violent plot, according to a complaint filed in May 2015.
This complaint said that a member or members of the Islamic State “directed and encouraged” Abdulkader “to plan and execute a violent attack within the United States.”
According to the complaint, Abdulkader had also posted comments in 2014 and 2015 on Twitter supporting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, on Twitter, claiming that his cousin had died fighting for the group.
As part of his preparations for the attack, the complaint said, Abdulkader conducted surveillance at a police station, went with the FBI source to a shooting range and bought an AK-47 assault rifle for $350.
He was arrested by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force after buying the gun, officials said. The following day, an arrest warrant was issued for Abdulkader on charges of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group, conspiring to kill a government employee and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime.
Abdulkader, of West Chester, an Ohio township north of Cincinnati, is one of five people in Ohio charged in connection with the Islamic State. Earlier this month, federal officials said that they arrested a 20-year-old Columbus man for trying to leave the state’s capital to fly to Libya and join the group.
He is also one of dozens such people convicted nationwide. Authorities have said that Abdulkader went to college in Cincinnati and was of Eritrean descent; according to the FBI, he became a U.S. citizen in September 2006.
He was also sentenced Wednesday to a lifetime of supervised release. An attorney for Abdulkader did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Just months before Abdulkader’s case was made public, authorities also said that Hussain had communicated with a man in the Boston area about killing a woman who organized a Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas last year. That man wound up attacking law enforcement officials and was fatally shot during a confrontation with FBI agents and Boston police officers.