A Pennsylvania man who was "an active moderator" on an English-language jihadist web forum pleaded guilty Tuesday to soliciting people to carry out terrorist attacks within the United States and to a weapons charge.
Emerson Begolly, 22, faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in late November. His plea agreement is sealed, but according to the indictment, Begolly made a series of posts on the Ansar al-Mujahideen English-language forum starting in July 2010 which urged people to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States. He suggested targeting "police stations, post offices, synagogues, military facilities" and utilities.
"Too often prosecutions arise only after a perpetrator commits actions ending in tragedy," said David J. Hickton, U.S. Attorney in Western Pennsylvania, in a statement. "On this occasion, I commend the FBI for taking proactive steps to protect the people of the United States before any such tragedy could occur."
Begolly bit two FBI agents who tried to question him in January regarding his online solicitations. He also tried to draw a loaded handgun, which seemed to match the aggressive message in his Ansar al-Mujahideen posts.
"Peaceful protests do not work," he wrote. "The kuffar see war as a solution to their problems, so we must see was as the solution to our[s]. No peace. But bullets, bombs and martyrdom operations."
A lone attacker killing a few people can be better than failing in plans for a massive attack that ends in arrest, he wrote at a different time. "Allah," he wrote, "commands us to terrorize [the average American]."