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American Muslim pleads guilty to using the Internet to solicit terrorism

Emerson Winfield Begolly pleaded guilty on Tuesday to using the Internet to urge others to commit 'real terrorism, but on a small scale.' He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

Lisa Monaco, shown here in May at her confirmation hearing to become assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice, said, "Today’s guilty plea underscores the need for continued vigilance against homegrown extremism and use of the Internet to incite violence."

Scott J. Ferrell / Congressional Quarterly / Newscom / File

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A 22-year-old American Muslim from New Bethlehem, Pa., pleaded guilty on Tuesday to using an Internet website to urge Muslim radicals within the US to engage in a wide range of terror attacks.

Emerson Winfield Begolly pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh to a single charge of solicitation to commit a crime of violence.

The solicitations including urging like-minded individuals in the US to sabotage train tracks; destroy phone lines, power lines, and cell phone towers; start forest fires; and engage in isolated attacks against Americans civilians, police, and military officials.

“Real terrorism, but on a small scale,” he wrote in one of his posts. “Best as single shot, drive by, hit and run, beat down. Who are the best targets? Off duty police, off duty soldiers, gang member, family members of soldiers, government agents, workers at ammunition factory, white supremacists or black supremacists.”

He added: “It is best if targeting soldiers or police that they are off duty and out of uniform simply because [their] investigations will look usually for ‘robbery gone wrong’ or ‘revenge’ [rather than] as act of terrorism [or] revolt.”

Mr. Begolly was an active moderator on the English-language version of the militant Islamic web discussion forum, Ansar al-Mujahideen Forum.

He allegedly posted items on the forum under the names “Asadullah al-Shishani,” “Abu Nancy,” and “Goatly.”

The second count of Begolly’s indictment charges that he posted and distributed on the Internet a 101-page explosives course written by a professor who was once Al-Qaeda’s top chemical and biological weapons expert.

Begolly warned anyone downloading the document to use “anonymizing software.” He also advised downloading it to a flash drive rather than an individual’s computer hard drive.

“Begolly placed a number of postings … encouraging attacks within the United States,” the indictment says. “He suggested the use of firearms, explosives, and propane tanks against targets such as police stations, post offices, synagogues, military facilities, train lines, bridges, cell phone towers, and water plants.”

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