ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP/WSPA) – A North Carolina man accused of plotting a U.S. terror attack that he discussed with a member of the Islamic State group pled guilty Tuesday.
Justin Sullivan, 20, of Morganton was accused of killing his neighbor and stealing his money so he could buy an assault rifle to carry out an IS-inspired shooting at a concert or club.
An indictment filed in August said Sullivan spoke with Junaid Hussain in June 2015 via social media about making a video of a terrorist attack in the U.S. to be used by the militant group. Hussain was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Syria in August 2015.
Prosecutors said in a statement that Sullivan pleaded guilty to attempting to commit an act of terrorism – planning to kill hundreds of innocent people to prove his allegiance to the terrorist group ISIL.
“Sullivan admitted in court today that he attempted to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries by planning mass casualty shooting attacks on behalf of ISIL against innocent people in North Carolina and Virginia,” U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose said in a statement.
Prosecutors say Sullivan also admitted to regular contact with Junaid Hussain, one of ISIL’s prominent members in Syria, who asked Sullivan to make a video of the deadly attack.
“It is frightening to know that the defendant in this case was able to use social media to contact and seek advice from ISIL, a murderous organization,” Rose said.
Prosecutors said Sullivan watched violent ISIL attacks on the Internet, including beheadings, expressed support for the group and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents.
Last year, he told an undercover FBI employee that he planned to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at a gun show and tried buying hollow point ammunition to use with the gun in June 2015.
Sullivan is in federal custody. According to the filed plea agreement, the parties agreed that a life sentence in prison was an appropriate sentence.
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