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Home-grown Islamist Web site moderator indicted

Begolly in Myspace photo

The moderator of an extremist Web site, who encouraged violent Jihad attacks inside the U.S. against law enforcement, military, public buildings and synagogues was indicted by a federal grand jury.

An indictment handed down in Alexandria, VA, on July 14 alleges Emerson Begolly, 22, is a homegrown terrorist who actively encouraged violence through a popular, internationally known Islamic extremist Web forum, the Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF). Begolly, from New Bethlehem, PA, is a moderator of the site, which distributes and promotes violent Islamist propaganda¸ said the FBI.

According to the indictment, it was through that Web forum, beginning in July 2010, that Begolly urged followers to use firearms, explosives and propane tanks to attack a wide-ranging list of targets inside the U.S. including police stations, post offices, synagogues, military facilities, train lines, cell phone towers, bridges and water plants. He also posted bomb-making instructions online, it said.

He had a previous violent physical run-in with the law last February, when he was indicted for allegedly assaulting federal agents and on firearms-related charges in the Western District of Pennsylvania. He allegedly bit two FBI agents while carrying a loaded 9 mm handgun when they pulled him from a vehicle parked at a New Bethlehem fast food restaurant. The indictment in that case said he bit the agents while they were trying to disarm him. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the charges filed in that district, according to FBI.

Begolly’s Myspace page presents several images of him posing in a Nazi uniform, as well as in less dramatic garb in front of computer screens and using a bullhorn. The page, which was still up on July 15, indicated Begolly went by several aliases on line, including Gaot Lee from Infovlad, Goat Lee at Terrorist Media, or Goatly at Al Thabaat.

In the latest indictment, the FBI alleged Begolly was trying to fan the flames of more violence. After the shootings of the Pentagon building and Marine Corp Museum building in Northern Virginia hit the news in October of 2010, said the agency, Begolly allegedly posted a comment online that praised the action and hoped the shooter had followed his previous postings encouraging similar acts of violence that might “seem small but cause big damage.”

Begolly also allegedly posted links last December to a 101-page document that contains information on how to set up a laboratory, conduct basic chemistry and manufacture explosives, said the FBI.

The indictment in the Virginia federal district court could bring him 30 more years in jail. It charges him with solicitation to commit a crime of violence, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

“Emerson Begolly is accused of repeatedly using the Internet to promote violent jihad against Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a July 14 statement. “These allegations demonstrate how young people in the United States can become influenced by – and eventually participate in – jihadist propaganda that is a serious threat to the safety of us all.”

"Today’s case underscores the continuing threat posed by homegrown extremists seeking to use the Internet to incite violence,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco in the statement.

“Today, the FBI is faced with a complex threat environment that combines homegrown extremism and the Internet,” said Assistant Director in Charge James McJunkin. “The FBI’s top priority is stopping terrorism, and we remain vigilant against those who solicit violent acts in the United States.”

“Those who attempt to harm or kill Americans will face a determined, coordinated law enforcement effort,” said U.S. Attorney David Hickton.


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