Virginia man Lionel Williams pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying to send $250 to the Islamic State.
Williams attempted to send money to a person he believed was a financier for ISIS with the hopes the money would be used to kill people, according to a Department of Justice press release. He tried this on two separate occasions.
The timeline for Williams’ radicalization started in 2014, when he began taking notice of the group’s activities. That notice built up into an obsession, leading him to purchase an AK-47 a day following the San Bernardino terror attack in December 2015.
But in March 2016, Williams went so far as to praise ISIS publicly on social media and declare his support for the terror organization. He stated that he wanted ISIS to take over the U.S. and threatened decapitation for any authorities he caught conducting surveillance on him. This post prompted a former associate of Williams’ to contact the FBI, and in April, an FBI agent pretending to be someone connected to ISIS contacted him.
Shortly after, he decided to donate money to someone he believed was an ISIS financier but in reality was an FBI employee. Williams hoped the money would be used to purchase a rocket-propelled grenade.
He also discussed the possibility of committing a domestic attack, but worried in November 2016 he was not “pure” enough. In December, however, he changed his mind and started planning to get his hands on “tools.”
Just two days later, agents arrested Williams on Dec. 21 outside his house. When he was arrested, Williams said the bureau was lucky to have arrested him outside of his house, as he would have been more than willing to shoot at the agents with his AK-47.
Even after his arrest, Williams told the FBI that he belonged to a “holy war.”
Williams will head to prison for 20 years when it comes time to his sentencing hearing on Dec. 20 based on his plea agreement.
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