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Va. man pleads guilty to terrorist aid

Washington Post Editors

A Northern Virginia man who wished death over the Internet to the creators of the "South Park" animated satire pleaded guilty Wednesday in Alexandria federal court to charges of supporting Somali terrorists.

Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, of Bristow pleaded guilty to charges of providing material support to terrorists, communicating threats and soliciting crimes of violence. His intention to plead guilty to the charges was reported Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady scheduled a sentencing hearing for Feb. 25. The three charges, if sentenced consecutively, carry a combined term of up to 30 years in prison.

As part of terms of his plea, Chesser agreed not to seek less than 20 years in prison. That agreement, however, does not bind the government in terms of what it would seek or what would be imposed.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, agreed not to seek Chesser's incarceration in a so-called Supermax facility such as the Colorado prison where terrorist defenders are housed in isolation for as much as 23 hours a day. That decision will ultimately belong to the Bureau of Prisons.

A George Mason University dropout who became an Internet propagandist for al-Qaeda under the name Abu Talhah al-Amrikee, Chesser was arrested July 21 after being placed on the no-fly list and stopped from traveling with his infant son from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Somalia.

He allegedly told FBI agents that he planned to join the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab, a Qaeda-linked terrorist organization that has committed numerous bombings and attacks in seeking to overthrow the weak, United Nations-supported Somali government.

This item has been updated since it was first published.

-- Spencer S. Hsu

By Washington Post Editors  | October 20, 2010; 3:09 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse, Spencer S. Hsu, Updates  
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