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Va. man pleads guilty to aiding Somali terrorists

ICC Note

Zachary Adam Chesser has pleaded guilty of aiding al-Shabaab, a Somali extremist group. The group is responsible for killing  several Christians in Somalia. It fights to impose strict version of Islamic law in Somalia.

By Spencer S. Hsu

10/21/2010 USA (Washington Post) – A Northern Virginia man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to charges of supporting Somali terrorists and threatening the creators of TV’s “South Park” over their depiction of the prophet Muhammad.

Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, of Bristow, pleaded guilty in Alexandria to charges of providing material support to terrorists, communicating threats and soliciting crimes of violence.

U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady set a sentencing hearing for Feb. 25. The three charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.In an agreement with prosecutors, Chesser would request no less than 20 years in prison. The terms do not limit what the government may seek or what a judge would impose, depending on Chesser’s cooperation.

The plea, which Chesser cannot appeal or withdraw, brings an end to the saga of a suburban Washington man whom friends described as “freakishly intelligent” and whom the FBI deemed a prolific Internet propagandist for al-Qaeda. Together with his wife, the Oakton High School graduate adopted pseudonyms and deluged al-Qaeda forums and mainstream chat sites with comments, videos and texts.

Terrorism analysts said Chesser e-mailed Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S.-born Muslim cleric who now lives in Yemen and has been accused of helping direct the Dec. 25 bombing attempt of a Detroit-bound airliner. And Chesser styled himself after Omar Hammami, a Mobile, Ala., man who has become a top Somali insurgent commander.

However, his efforts to become another American spokesman for al-Qaeda-linked groups have “had no enduring impact,” said Jarret Brachman, a counterterrorism analyst at North Dakota State University who monitors jihadi Web sites.

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