S.C. man who tried to join ISIS sentenced to 20 years in federal prison

Updated: Jun. 10, 2019 at 5:33 PM CDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Ladson man who tried to join ISIS in 2017 was sentenced in federal court Monday morning to 20 years in prison plus lifetime supervision after he is released.

Zakaryia Abdin had pleaded guilty to trying to provide support to a terrorist organization.

Abdin was allowed to read a letter to the judge in which he said, “This was the worst mistake I made as a teenager.” Abdin went on to say he had learned his lesson and will “never do it again.” Abdin then turned to his mom and sister who were in the courtroom and said, “I’m sorry for letting you down. It’s not your fault. I love you.”

Judge Richard Gergel said Abdin’s lifetime supervision will include enrollment in a mental health program after he is out of prison. Abdin’s probation officer will also be installing computer monitoring software to his electronic devices.

Abdin’s sentencing was to have taken place in January but was delayed because of the federal government shutdown.

He entered a guilty plea on Aug. 8, changing his previous plea of not guilty.

He was 18 when he was arrested in March 2017 at the Charleston International Airport by special agents of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force before he boarded an outbound flight.

Abdin was accused of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, a designated foreign terrorist organization, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Crick said. The charge is based on Abdin’s alleged attempt to travel overseas to join the terrorist organization, he said.

An affidavit unsealed Tuesday alleges Abdin sought help online from a person he thought was affiliated with ISIS, but was really an undercover FBI agent. Abdin told the agent he had pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2014 and wanted help joining.

The 18-year-old told the agent he was “very close” to doing something similar to the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting and was willing to commit an attack on U.S. soil if needed.

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