American Islamic State supporter Terrence J. McNeil was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison for advocating for the deaths of U.S. military service members.
McNeil, a 24-year-old from Akron, Ohio, was sentenced in connection with a guilty plea earlier this year consisting of five counts of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and five counts of threatening interstate communications.
“With this sentence, McNeil is being held accountable for disseminating ISIS’s violent rhetoric, circulating U.S. military personnel information and explicitly calling for the killing of American service members in their homes and communities,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente said in a statement. “The National Security Division will continue to investigate and prosecute those who use social media to threaten acts of violence against our military members and their families, on behalf of terrorist organizations.”
McNeil used social media to express support for terrorist organizations like the Islamic State and al-Sham, beginning in September 2015. He first reblogged an entry on Tumblr with the title “Islamic State Hacking Division” which included “Target: United States Military,” containing the addresses of 100 U.S. service members.
“O Brothers in America, know that the jihad against the crusaders is not limited to the lands of the Khilafah, it is a world-wide jihad and their war is not just a war against the Islamic State, it is a war against Islam…Know that it is wajib [translated to “necessary”] for you to kill these kuffar! and now we have made it easy for you by giving you addresses, all you need to do is take the final step, so what are you waiting for?” the text of the animated gif stated. “Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking that they are safe…”
The animated gif then showed dozens of photographs of military personnel with identifiable information. The last image shows a handgun and a knife with the accompanying text “and kill them wherever you find them…”
“This defendant was dedicated to attacking members of the military here in the United States,” Acting U.S. Attorney David Sierleja said. “This kind of fanaticism is dangerous and will be aggressively prosecuted.”
McNeil posted several other similar lists of people to kill, and included the same use of radical Islam as justification.
Not only did McNeil post kill lists, but he also searched for the cost of firearms and possessed documents showing how to create bombs.
Before he was arrested in November 2015, McNeil had no criminal history but was known for making threats online.
Although many other cases have focused on Americans providing material support to ISIS, this case used the legal theory of using social media for the purpose of inciting violence, which goes far beyond constitutional protections for free speech.
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