An Ohio man who expressed support for the Islamic State has pleaded guilty to soliciting the murder of members of the U.S. military, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Terrence J. McNeil, 24, of Akron, Ohio, pleaded guilty Tuesday to five counts of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and five counts of making threatening interstate communications involving his call to kill military personnel.
McNeil “disseminated ISIL’s violent rhetoric, circulated U.S. military personnel information, and explicitly called for the killing of American service members in their homes and communities,” acting assistant attorney general Mary B. McCord said in a statement, using an acronym for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. “Now he will be held accountable.”
McNeil, a U.S. citizen, was arrested on Nov. 12, 2015. He professed his support on numerous occasions on social media for the Islamic State, according to documents filed in the case. In September 2015, using a Tumblr account, he reposted a file with the banner “Islamic State Hacking Division,” followed by “Target: United States Military” and “Leak: Addresses of 100 U.S. Military Personnel.”
According to the documents, one file that apparently sought to rally Islamic State followers to violence stated: “O Brothers in America, know that the jihad against the crusaders is not limited to the lands of the [caliphate], it is a world-wide jihad and their war is not just a war against the Islamic State, it is a war against Islam.”
McNeil went on to say it was necessary to kill the “kuffar” or disbelievers: “Now we have made it easy for you by giving you addresses, all you need to do is take the final step.”
According to case documents, the file said, “Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking that they are safe.”
The file then displays several dozen photographs, purportedly of military personnel, along with their names, addresses and military branch, according to the government. The final image is a picture of a handgun and a knife with text that reads, “and kill them wherever you find them.”
McNeil’s case is an example of what FBI Director James B. Comey has repeatedly warned about in recent years — Islamic State supporters taking to social media to call on supporters in the United States to kill people in the country.
McNeil posted other kill lists in late 2015, all of which repeated the call to commit murder, the Justice Department said.
“While we aggressively defend First Amendment rights, the individual arrested went far beyond free speech by reposting names and addresses of 100 U.S. service members, all with the intent to have them killed,” said Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge at the FBI’s Cleveland division.
McNeil’s sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2. Under the terms of his plea agreement, he faces a sentence of between 15 and 20 years in prison.