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American jihadi gets 25 years for 'South Park' and Facebook death threats

Zachary Chesser of Virginia, who converted to a militant form of Islam, had pleaded guilty to three charges, including threatening the lives of 'South Park' writers and participants in 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.'

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Chesser’s lawyer, Federal Public Defender Michael Nachmanoff, acknowledged that his client’s threats were serious, but he said they did not carry the weight of similar pronouncements made by Ayatollah Khomeini against author Salman Rushdie.

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“Unlike threats from deviant Islamic leaders who arguably possess religious credentials and who, as leaders of countries or mosques also have adherents to their teachings, Mr. Chesser’s call to violence, thankfully, appears to have received little attention, which is not surprising given its source,” Mr. Nachmanoff wrote in his brief to the court.

Chesser pleaded guilty in October to three federal charges. He attempted to provide material support to the Somali-based al-Shabaab organization, which has been designated a foreign terrorist group by the US government.

He has admitted that he tried to board a plane from New York to Uganda with the intent of eventually joining members of al-Shabaab in Somalia. He said he brought his infant son on the journey in an effort to disguise his intention of traveling overseas to engage in what he considered a holy war.

Chesser was intercepted before his plane could depart. He later told investigators that he planned to walk across the boarder from Uganda into Kenya and then across the Kenyan border into Somalia.

Chesser also admitted that he used militant websites on the Internet to urge Muslims in the US to leave suspicious packages in public places to desensitize US law enforcement officials to the threat of small bombs. The effort was part of a plan to increase the carnage during a presumed future campaign involving real bombs.

The defendant also pleaded guilty to soliciting violence from fellow Muslims against those he perceived as insulting the dignity of Islam. The threats were issued over the "South Park" program and the Draw Mohammed Day effort on Facebook.

“Zachary Chesser will spend 25 years in prison for advocating the murder of US citizens for engaging in free speech about his religion,” said US Attorney Neil MacBride in a statement.

“The fact that a young man from northern Virginia could support such violence and terror is a sobering reminder of the serious threat that homegrown jihadists pose to this country,” he said.

IN PICTURES: American jihadis

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