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Guilty plea for Seattle man who tried to join Islamic State

March 14, 2022 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A 21-year-old Seattle man pleaded guilty Monday to a terrorism-related charge after being arrested while trying to board a flight to join the Islamic State group.

Elvin Hunter Bgorn Williams was arrested last June at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as he checked in for a flight to Cairo.

He entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court to one count of providing support to a foreign terrorist organization and is due to be sentenced June 14.

Williams first came to the FBI’s attention when he was 16, after administrators at his high school reported that he was telling others he wanted to join ISIS, according to a criminal complaint filed last year. Williams also said that the fatal terrorist attack on an Ariana Grande concert in England in 2017 was justified by the way the singer dressed, the complaint said.

At the time, his mother told investigators that Williams had been kicked off social media for his pro-Islamic State posts and that she cut off the internet service at their home to prevent him from accessing extremist websites.

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Members of a Seattle-area mosque tried to de-radicalize Williams, helping him with housing, food and tuition for a semester of college. They also gave him a cellphone and a laptop in hopes he would use them to find a job, the complaint said.

But after a member of the mosque in 2020 saw Williams using his phone to look at extremist videos, they demanded it back, found additional violent videos and bomb-making instructions, and reported him to the FBI.

The mosque was not identified in court documents.

The agency opened an investigation and enlisted the help of confidential informants who messaged with Williams about his plans or posed as Islamic State recruiters.

In messages cited in the complaint, Williams discussed his willingness to become a martyr, his preference for fighting in the desert over the jungle, his fervent wish to behead someone — and his concern that he would be arrested at the airport.

He spent the first part of 2021 working and saving up for travel expenses, the complaint said. He received his passport on May 6, less than a month before his arrest.