South Carolina Man Who Tried to Join ISIS Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
June 12, 2019 Updated: June 12, 2019

A South Carolina man who pleaded guilty to trying to join ISIS has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

A federal judge on Monday, June 10, sentenced 20-year-old Zakaryia Abdin to 20 years behind bars for attempting to fight for the ISIS.

His sentence comes after he pleaded guilty in August 2018 to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, following his arrest in March 2017.

When Abdin was just 18, he began to facilitate connections with members of the terrorist organization over social media in an attempt to join ISIS, reported CBS Austin.

This prompted FBI agents to monitor his activity, said prosecutors.

Abdin engaged in several conversations with an undercover FBI agent, in which he reportedly pledged his allegiance to ISIS.

Prosecutors added he pledged to wage “Jihad” against the “enemies of Allah,” in recorded footage.

Abdin also told an undercover FBI agent posing as an ISIS recruiter he wanted to torture an American, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to the FBI, just months before his arrest in 2017, Abdin also obtained guns and often practiced shooting at a shooting area in Charleston.

A judge believed Abdin was contemplating committing a possible terrorist attack, as he had acquired a semi-automatic assault rifle and recorded himself shooting the weapon, making reference to the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting of 2016, reported Count On News 2.

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said, “This is a person who has shown he is a threat to the public of York County, South Carolina, and America.”

Abdin was arrested by federal agents at a TSA checkpoint as he attempted to board a commercial flight from Charleston connecting to Jordan, reported CBS Austin.

Previously, he was arrested aged 16 when authorities heard Abdin talk about robbing a gun store to get weapons to kill soldiers.

Abdin, who at the time was still reportedly a student at York Comprehensive High School, pleaded guilty but was released after a year.

Months before his arrest on March 30, 2017, he was warned by the FBI during an in-person meeting of the consequences of his actions, prosecutors say.

Judge Gergel advised Abdin to further his education during his time in prison, so that he may better his life upon his release.

The judge ordered on June 10 that Abdin must be supervised for life once he is released.

Attempts To Join ISIS From the United States

In 2014, ISIS bride Hoda Muthana, 24, left the United States to join ISIS when she was just 18 and still a college student in Alabama.

Muthana, who served as a top propagandist for ISIS, married three of the group’s fighters and had a son with at least one of them.

“Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriot, Memorial etc Day parade,” she wrote in a Twitter post as she encouraged Muslims in the country to commit terrorist acts.

Now, five years on, she is embroiled in a legal battle to return to the United States with her toddler son.

President Donald Trump on Feb. 20 announced he instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to allow her to return.

Pompeo described her as “a terrorist” on March 4, as he told reporters: “This is a woman who went online and tried to kill young men and women of the United States of America.

“She advocated for jihad, for people to drive vans across streets here in the United States and kill Americans.”

“She’s not a U.S. citizen. She has no claim of U.S. citizenship. In fact, she’s a terrorist, and we shouldn’t bring back foreign terrorists to the United States of America. It’s not the right thing to do,” he added.

“President Trump is determined that she will not come back. And we don’t need that kind of risk, and we don’t need people like her who threatened the lives of Americans and Iowans coming back to the United States who aren’t citizens.”

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.