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South Park jihadist gets 25 years

Zachary Chesser

The 21 year-old Virginia man who threatened the creators of the South Park television show and tried to support the Al-Shabaab terrorist group was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Zachary Chesser, 21, of Bristow, VA, was sentenced on Feb. 24 to the prison term, followed by three years of supervised release, for communicating threats against the writers of the South Park television show, soliciting violent jihadists to desensitize law enforcement, and attempting to provide material support to Al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization, said the Department of Justice.

In April, 2010, Chesser, who called himself “Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee” on the Internet, warned the creators of "South Park" that they might be killed for mocking Islam in a satirical episode of the program.

In online postings he also urged jihadists to leave suspicious, but harmless, packages in public places in hopes of lulling authorities into a false sense of security.

Chesser explained through a posting online that once law enforcement was desensitized, a real explosive could be used. He ended the posting with the words, “Boom! No more kuffar.” According to court documents, “kuffar” means unbeliever, or disbeliever.

Chesser plead guilty to charges on Oct. 20, 2010.  Documents filed in his plea agreement showed he had attempted to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab and engage in violent jihad as a foreign fighter. The first attempt was in November 2009, which was postponed because his wife was unable to obtain her passport. The second attempt was on July 10, 2010, when he sought to board a flight from New York to Uganda with his infant son. He was prevented from boarding the plane, and Chesser admitted that he brought his son with him as part of his “cover” to avoid detection of his intention to join Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

The documents also said he kept several online profiles dedicated to extremist jihad propaganda and admitted to taking steps to encourage violent jihadists to attack the writers of South Park over an episode that included the portrayal of Muhammad in a bear costume. He included information about the creators’ residences and urged jihadists to “pay them a visit.”

He also admitted that in May 2010, he posted to a jihadist website the personal contact information of individuals who had joined the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” group on Facebook, with the prompting that this is, “Just a place to start.”

“Zachary Chesser attempted to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and used the Internet to incite violence,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division. “Today he is being held accountable for his actions. I applaud the many agents, prosecutors and analysts who worked tirelessly to bring this man to justice.”

“Zachary Chesser encouraged violent jihad,” said James McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI is concerned about U.S. citizens traveling overseas to join Al-Shabaab, and we are vigilant in working to disrupt potential plots where U.S. citizens become further indoctrinated and return with actual terrorism experience and training.”


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