An American Jihadist

Zachary Chesser Timeline

[Zac Chesser senior photo]

Zachary Chesser was born on Dec. 22, 1989, in Charlottesville and graduated from Oakton High School in Vienna. He faces up to 30 years after pleading guilty to charges relating to terrorist activities, including soliciting violent crimes. The timeline below documents the online and personal journeys that led to his arrest in July of this year.

VIDEO: A convert embraces extremism
DOCUMENTS: Manifesto, high school yearbook and more

2007-08: Chesser's senior year. He becomes interested in Islam while dating a Muslim girl.

Summer: Chesser converts to Islam.

Fall: Chesser enrolls at George Mason University.

December: Chesser appears on Anwar al-Aulaqi's blog.

January: Chesser corresponds with Proscovia Nzabanita via al-Aulaqi's blog.

March 6: Chesser marries Nzabanita.

May-June: FBI interviews Chesser repeatedly. He tells an agent that he sent al-Aulaqi several e-mails and that al-Aulaqi replied to two.

November: A son is born to Nzabanita and Chesser. Chesser leaves the Islamic Center of Northern Virginia and attempts to travel to Somalia with Nzabanita but is thwarted when her mother confiscates her passport.

December: Chesser begins his own blog,, which he says "will be primarily devoted to spreading knowledge regarding Jihad and the Mujahideen."

January-March: Chesser post videos and articles to his blog about the extremist movement, including a screenshot of a Transportation Security Administration manual on aviation security screening and a link to a chapter in the U.S. Army Rangers' handbook about demolitions.

March 20: Chesser protests in front of the White House and later posts a video of himself telling the U.S. to pull out of the Middle East and urging President Obama to convert to Islam.

April: On Revolution Muslim's Web site, Chesser posts a warning to "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, over a "South Park" episode that portrayed Muhammad dressed in a bear costume. Chesser also posts links to an article highlighting the location of Stone's and Parker's personal residences.

May: Court-ordered electronic surveillance records Chesser telling his wife that he is taking their son with him to Uganda as part of his cover.

June 24: An FBI search of Chesser's Fairfax residence finds computers, DVDs and more. They also find a journal where he talks about his desire to join al-Shabab.

June 28: Chesser posts his manifesto, "Raising Al Qaa'ida," to several sites

July 10: Chesser is barred from boarding a flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport to Uganda.

July 11: Bombings at telecast of World Cup semifinal in Uganda for which al-Shabab claims responsibility.

July 14: Chesser calls the FBI. He says that he has had a change of heart after the Uganda bombings and wants to provide the agency with information regarding al-Shabab.

July 21: FBI arrests Chesser.

Oct. 20: Chesser pleads guilty to supporting Somali terrorists, threatening the creators of "South Park" and soliciting crimes of violence. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25. He faces up to 30 years in prison.
SOURCES: FBI, ADL, Aaron Zelin. GRAPHIC: Meghan Louttit, Tara Bahrampour - The Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2010.

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