DOJ: West Chester man pleads guilty to plotting ISIL-inspired attack

DOJ: West Chester man pleads guilty to plotting ISIL-inspired attack

WEST CHESTER, OH (FOX19) - A West Chester man pleaded guilty for his ISIL-inspired plot to attack and kill an employee of a U.S. military installation and then attack a local police station using firearms and Molotov cocktails, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The guilty plea happened Feb. 29, 2016. The case was sealed and kept secret for more than a year until a federal judge unsealed the file today.

Documents unsealed Thursday reveal Munir Abdulkader, 21, of West Chester, pleaded guilty to attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, material support of foreign terrorist organization and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

He graduated from Lakota East in 2013 and was a student at Xavier University from Fall 2013 until Spring 2015, according to school officials.

"University officials have conferred with the FBI and at no time were our students or campus at risk of harm," Xavier said in a release.

Abdulkader, who was arrested in May of 2015, formulated a plan to abduct a military official at home and film the official's execution. After the execution, he planned to attack a local police station with firearms and Molotov cocktails, court records released today show.

Between July 2014 and May 2015, Abdulkader communicated with members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and expressed support for the group on Twitter, federal prosecutors said.

He made plans and preparations to travel to Syria to join ISIL as a fighter, according to officials. His original May 2015 departure date was postponed after he expressed concerns about the ability to travel.

In May of 2015, Abdulkader communicated with ISIL members, including one individual, identified as Junaid Hussein. Officials said Hussein "directed and encouraged Abdulkader to plan and execute a violent attack within the United States."

In preparation for the attacks, department officials said Abdulkader purchased a vest for holding ammunition, travel and conducted surveillance of a police station, went to a shooting range and learned to operated certain firearms and practiced them and purchased an AK-47 assault rifle.

Abdulkader was arrested on May 21, 2015 by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force after he purchased the AK-47, officials said.

He was charged the following day and a bill of information was filed on March 2.

Southern District U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman's office told FOX19 NOW federal prosecutors would not be discussing this case publicly and would not grant any interviews regarding the case or Abdulkader's targets. Glassman did release a written statement this afternoon:

"It's significant that Abdulkader was not just inspired by terrorist groups—he was in direct contact with the ISIL recruiter Junaid Hussein, who encouraged and directed his planned attack. That kind of direct contact with overseas terrorists is real, and it can happen -- and did happen -- right here in the Southern District of Ohio.

We're fortunate that the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force was able to detect and stop this plot before any violence took place. The JTTF does tremendous work, day in and day out, to keep us safe, but we need everyone's help: if you know someone who seems to be going down a path of radicalization -- you see a change in behavior or start to hear things that sound scary, and you can tell that something isn't right -- please say something. Let law enforcement know. Let your family know. What we can't afford to do is to sit on our hands, because when it comes to keeping the Southern District of Ohio safe from terrorism, we're all in this together."

Abdulkader pleaded guilty to the three charges on March 24, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett. The case was under seal until Thursday.

Abdulkader faces up to 20 years for attempted murder of government employees and officials and another 15 years for material support of a foreign terrorist organization. In addition, he faces a mandatory sentence of five years in prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of an attempted crime of violence.

Copyright 2016 WXIX. All rights reserved.