Man pleads guilty to plotting attack on government officials


CINCINNATI (AP) — Federal authorities said Thursday a 21-year-old college student from a southwest Ohio suburb has pleaded guilty to plotting to execute a U.S. military official and then attack a local police station in support of the Islamic State group.

Newly unsealed documents said Munir Abdulkader of West Chester Township was arrested in May 2015 and pleaded guilty in March. Federal documents stated that Abdulkader had been in communication with an Islamic State recruiter overseas who encouraged him to “plan and execute a violent attack” in the United States. Federal authorities identified the recruiter as Junaid Hussain, killed by a drone strike last year.

Federal documents stated he planned to abduct a military employee from his home and film his execution, then attack a police station using firearms including an AK-47 assault weapon and with Molotov cocktails.

Court records show Abdulkader pleaded guilty to attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, material support of a foreign terrorist organization, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime.

Sentencing was set for October. A message was left with Abdulkader’s attorney seeking comment.

He could be sentenced from five years to life for the firearms count and up to 20 years for the charge of attempted murder of government officials and employees.

Court records show that Abdulkader, who was born in the East Africa nation of Eritrea, became a U.S. citizen in 2006 and was attending Xavier University in Cincinnati during the time of investigation.

“University officials have conferred with the FBI and at no time were our students or campus at risk of harm,” Xavier spokeswoman Kelly Leon said in a statement. She said Abdulkader was a student there from fall 2013 to spring 2015, but that the school couldn’t release any other information because of student privacy laws.

His alleged planned targets weren’t identified.

Authorities said a confidential informant was also involved in the investigation. They said Abdulkader had said on Twitter that his cousin was killed fighting for the Islamic State group and that he wanted to travel overseas to become a martyr. After planning to travel to Syria in 2015, he decided against that and began discussing a violent attack near home, according to the court documents.

Authorities said he went to a shooting range to practice, and conducted surveillance of a police station. He was arrested May 21, 2015, after buying an AK-47, authorities said.

That arrest was four months after another suburban Cincinnati youth was arrested by the FBI after buying assault weapons and ammunition, allegedly for a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol in support of the Islamic State group. Christopher Lee Cornell, 22, of Green Township, has pleaded not guilty to four counts and is awaiting trial on charges including attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees.

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