News / Africa

US Man Pleads Guilty to Helping Somali Terror Group

This undated file picture shows Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, standing in front of the White House in Washington, DC. Chesser pleaded guilty to providing material support to a US-designated terrorist group and making threats against the writers of the popular
This undated file picture shows Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, standing in front of the White House in Washington, DC. Chesser pleaded guilty to providing material support to a US-designated terrorist group and making threats against the writers of the popular

An American man has pleaded guilty to supporting the al-Qaida-linked Somali group al-Shabab, which is designated a terrorist group by the U.S. government.

In a Virginia court Wednesday, 20-year-old Zachary Chesser also pleaded guilty to posting online threats to the creators of the "South Park" television show for their depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

He faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced next February.

Prosecutors say Chesser tried twice to travel to Somalia to join al-Shabab, which is fighting to topple the U.S.- and U.N.-backed transitional government of Somalia.    

They say on one occasion he tried to take his infant son on the trip in a bid to avoid detection of his intent.

Chesser also ran a number of websites calling for jihad and violence against Americans. 

Upset about how a "South Park" episode portrayed the Prophet Muhammad, prosecutors say Chesser posted messages urging death for those who defamed the prophet and posted links to help readers find the homes of the show's writers.

Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said Chesser endangered the lives of innocent people who will remain at risk for many years to come. 

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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