ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) -- Zachary Chesser, 20, pleaded guilty Wednesday morning in Federal Court in Alexandria to three counts as part of a plea agreement.
His attorney describes him as deeply remorseful, renouncing violent jihad. But court documents portray a man who wanted to joins a terrorist group.
He admitted to supplying material and trying to join Al Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaida.
He also pleaded guilty for soliciting crimes of violence by recruiting people to put fake bombs and suspicious packages in various locations. He said he wanted first responders to be desensitized and then eventually put out a real bomb.
And finally he is guilty for threatening the creators of South Park for mocking the prophet Muhammad.
Chesser's family including his mother and father sat in the courtroom.
The Oakton High School graduate appeared to be the all-American boy who played football and basketball. But a closer inspection revealed a different side. Chesser is in various YouTube video attending pro-Hamas rallies in D.C.
Chesser was on the no-fly list and was on the radar of federal agents when he was caught trying to leave the country bound for Somalia twice.
His most recent attempt which led to his capture happened in July at JFK Airport.
Those close to the case say Chesser didn't know what he was getting into and lost his way in high school.
But the U.S. Attorney says the damage is done especially when he made the online threats against the South Park creators.
Chesser said the creators were in grave danger and they would be visited by a jihad group.
Chesser had encouraged others to attack the creators, putting out their pictures and personal information about them.
"Zachary Chesser seriously endangered the lives of innocent people who will remain at risk for many years to come," said U.S. Attorney MacBride.
"His solicitation of extremists to murder U.S. citizens also caused people throughout the country to fear speaking out - even in jest - lest they also be labeled as enemies who deserved to be killed.
In admitting his guilt today, Mr. Chesser reminded us of the serious threat homegrown jihadists pose to this country, and I express my gratitude and admiration for the FBI agents who apprehended Mr. Chesser before he could endanger even more Americans."
Chesser faces 30 years in prison. As part of the plea deal Chesser cannot ask for less than 20 years. But in return he has requested the U.S Attorney not to pursue further charges against his 26-year-old old wife from Uganda. She has been charged with making a false statement.
Prosecutors also agreed not to seek a Supermax security facility for Chesser to serve out his sentence.
Chesser is expected to be sentenced February 25th.
Written by Surae Chinn
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