Justin Sullivan, 19, of Morganton, N.C., knew there was a possibility that the unknown person he was communicating with over the Internet might be an undercover FBI agent.
The person was expressing all the “correct” views in support of the Islamic State and opposing US bombing raids against the group in conversations on June 6 and 7.
But Mr. Sullivan, a recent Muslim convert, had his doubts.
“Just kill a few people so that I know u are truthful.… just shoot them [then] leave… wear a mask, do it at night,” Sullivan suggested, according to a sworn FBI affidavit filed in court.
Then Sullivan asked: “Can u kill?”
The undercover agent responded: “Do you think you can kill?”
Sullivan answered that he was planning to conduct a mass shooting later that month. He estimated the death toll would reach 1,000, according to the affidavit.
“Yes I’m thinking about using biological weapons…. Coat our bullets with cyanide … and then set off a gas bomb to finish off the rest…. its easy to make,” Sullivan is quoted as saying. “Our attacks need to be as big as possible,” he added. “We can do minor assassinations before the big attack for training.”
Sullivan asked the undercover agent if he knew how to make a silencer to help dampen the sound of a gunshot. The agent said he might be able to construct a homemade suppressor and could send it to Sullivan.
Sullivan expressed concern that he might be arrested trying pick up the shipment. “U might be a spy,” he said, suddenly suspicious of the man with whom he was apparently plotting mass murder. Then he repeated his earlier suggestion: “If u killed someone id know ur truthful.”
As part of its undercover operation, the FBI built a functional silencer and mailed it to Sullivan’s parents’ house, where the young man was living.
The silencer was delivered on June 19. Shortly after Sullivan’s mother picked up the mail and brought the silencer into the house, the FBI arrested Sullivan and searched the house.
The teen told the arresting agents that he didn’t mean the things he had said to the undercover agent and that he never intended to carry out the attacks they’d discussed.
He had allegedly told the undercover agent that he planned to conduct a mass casualty attack between June 21 and June 23. He noted that his parents would be out of town on those days.
Sullivan had also allegedly asked the undercover agent to kill his parents, saying that he would send money and their location.
Sullivan was charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terror organization, receipt of a silencer with intent to commit a felony, and receipt and possession of an unregistered silencer.