Stories about ISIL have dominated news networks over the past year, but the threat of terrorist activity can often times feel like a far off concern for soldiers to deal with overseas. However, in the modern world threats to national security can come from anywhere. North Carolina FBI agents encountered this first hand when word reached them recently that a teenager in Morganton, North Carolina might be plotting a terrorist attack in support of ISIL on American soil.
The FBI was made aware of 19-year-old Justin Sullivan’s activities at a gun show in Hickory, North Carolina. He had made plans to purchase a semi-automatic rifle, and it was believed he had intent to use it to kill U.S. citizens on behalf of ISIS. On June 6, an undercover agent working with the FBI contacted Sullivan. Sullivan self described himself as a mujahidin and as a converted Muslim living in the U.S.
After telling the agent that he believed war had come to the U.S., Sullivan asked the agent to join what he called the Islamic State of North America. Sullivan shared his plans with the agent to conduct a series of terrorist attacks, and he instructed the agent on methods for obtaining his own weapons from gun shows so that he could assist Sullivan.
The criminal charge states that around June 9 Sullivan began discussing the potential for constructing a homemade silencer for use in a series of assassination attempts that would preclude a larger terrorist strike.
This, alongside an array of other information, was enough for the FBI to have Sullivan arrested with the help of local law enforcement.
He was arrested on Friday morning and is charged with intent to commit acts of violence in support of ISIL. He’ll appear in court on Monday in Charlotte and if convicted will face up to 50 years in prison and nearly half a million dollars in fines.