US national gets 20-year jail for supporting LeT

Last Updated: Tue, Sep 17, 2019 12:13 hrs
Prison

New Delhi: A United States court on Monday sentenced a North Texas man to 20 years of imprisonment for providing material support to terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

US District Judge Reed O'Connor sentenced Michael Kyle Sewell, 18, who was arrested in February and pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in May.

During the sentencing, federal prosecutors introduced evidence that Sewell's offense was consistent with a long pattern of online statements supporting violent extremism.

He had posted numerous messages threatening to attack individuals and gatherings of people who he believed were opponents of his radical beliefs. 

Sewell also conducted internet searches suggesting that he was investigating ways to carry out such attacks.

During a search of Sewell's home after his arrest, agents found an AR-15 style rifle, multiple magazines and a number of knives in Sewell's bedroom.

"Sewell conspired with another individual to provide material support to LeT and assisted his co-conspirator with his plans to travel overseas to join the terrorist organization," Assistant Attorney General of National Security John C Demers said.

"This case demonstrates how an American citizen can be radicalized by a violent ideology based upon hate and how the actions of the FBI and our partners on the Joint Terrorism Task Force worked tirelessly to prevent violence here, and abroad.

"We cannot thank them enough for what they do to protect our community," US Attorney Nealy Cox said. According to the court documents, Sewell admitted to encouraging an individual identified in the documents as cc1 to join LeT.

Sewell provided the co-conspirator, who he spoke to on social media, with contact information for an individual he believed could facilitate the co-conspirator's travel to Pakistan to join LeT.

Unbeknownst to Sewell and the co-conspirator, the facilitator was an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation employee.

After providing the facilitator's contact information to the co-conspirator, Sewell coached him about how to present himself to the facilitator.

Sewell then contacted the facilitator to vouch for the co-conspirator's intentions and promised that he would kill the co-conspirator if he turned out to be a spy.

He also told the facilitator that he would recruit additional fighters to join LeT.

The co-conspirator continued to communicate with the facilitator and made arrangements to travel to Pakistan to join LeT.