CINCINNATI — A suburban Cincinnati man who took direction from an Islamic State operative overseas and planned to kill police officers in an attack on a metro area police station was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison.
Munir Abdulkader, 22, of West Chester Township, Ohio, attended Cincinnati's Xavier University for two years until spring 2015.
Abdulkader’s family is originally from Eritrea in eastern Africa.
Officials have said he was born there and became a U.S. citizen in 2006 although his mother told an interviewer that her son was born in the United States and never has left the country. She said they moved to West Chester from New York City in 2009.
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Abdulkader in May 2015 after he bought an AK-47-style rifle during what the FBI termed a "controlled purchase." It wasn't immediately clear whether the FBI had given him the money or whether agents accompanied him on the purchase.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year in U.S. District Court here to attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, a gun charge, and providing support to a foreign terrorist organization. District Judge Michael Barrett sentenced him at hearing Wednesday.
Officials say Abdulkader used Twitter to post images almost daily of beheadings and support for the Islamic State. He talked about attaining martyrdom.
"I love my parents and family," he posted on Twitter, according to court documents. "I don't want to pay them with money after college, rather through the intercession of a (martyr) on that day."
Abdulkader initially planned to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State as a fighter, but prosecutors say he backed away when he saw numerous others were being arrested trying to do the same thing.
Eventually, a prominent overseas member of the terror group directed and helped him plot to kill a military employee and video-record it before attacking a police station in the Cincinnati area, court documents say. Officials have refused to say which police station was targeted.
“The defendant’s initial support of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) was not limited to the spreading of its venomous calls to violence, rather he undertook concrete actions to aid ISIL,” prosecutors said in documents filed in advance of the sentencing. “Specifically, he sought to travel abroad to join ISIL’s murderous gangs, applied for a passport, and in order to partially mask his plotting, instructed that the passport should be delivered to an address other than his own actual residence.”
Junaid Hussain, an Islamic State operative heavily involved in the group's recruitment, also told him travel was too risky. Hussain was killed in an air strike about three months after Abdulkader was arrested.
A counterterrorism consultant said in a court filing that the FBI's use of a confidential source gave Abdulkader the means to carry out an attack he couldn't have done without the government's involvement. He also said Abdulkader isn't likely to return to terrorist-like activity when released from prison.
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