(CN) – A Virginia man who encouraged violent jihadists to attack the creators of “South Park” was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday.
Zachary Adam Chesser had also notified jihadists about the members of a Facebook group that called on members to draw pictures of Muhammad, and he aspired to join a “violent and brutal extremist group” based in Somalia, the Justice Department said.
Investigators learned that for several months last year, the 21-year-old from Fairfax County, Va., posted violent threats to jihadist websites and on several “online profiles dedicated to extremist jihad propaganda” that he maintained.
The Justice Department said Chesser made threats against the writers of the “South Park,” tried to provide material support to the Al-Shabaab terrorist organization and solicited violent jihadists to desensitize law enforcement to bombs by planting suspicious-look, but ultimately innocent, packages in public places.
Chesser pleaded guilty in October.
In April 2010, the Comedy Central cartoon “South Park” aired a controversial episode that satirized the Muslim teaching prohibiting the depiction of Muhammad or any other prophet.
Chesser admitted that after the episode aired, he encouraged violent jihadists to attack the writers of South Park and publicized the writers’ residence so that his readers could “pay them a visit.”
In an effort to desensitize law enforcement to real explosives, Chesser encouraged jihadists to place suspicious-looking, but ultimately benign packages, in public places. “Chesser explained through a posting online that once law enforcement was desensitized, a real explosive could be used,” according to the Justice Department. “Chesser ended the posting with the words, ‘Boom! No more kuffar.’ According to court documents, ‘kuffar’ means unbeliever, or disbeliever.”
After finding a group titled “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” on the social networking site, Facebook, Chesser posted the personal contact information of the group’s members on a jihadist website.
Chesser also had plans to join Al-Shabaab, a Somali-based terrorist organization whose members are affiliated with al-Qaida.
In addition, Chesser pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to Al-Shabaab. On Feb. 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of State designated Al-Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization, describing it as a violent and brutal extremist group based in Somalia with a number of individuals affiliated with Al-Qaeda. This designation prohibits providing material support or resources to Al-Shabaab.
He was stopped while truing to board a flight from New York to Uganda in July with his infant son, whom he told authorities he brought along to help his “cover.”
Chesser had tried to meet up with Al-Shabaab in November 2009, but the plan fell through when his wife could not get a passport.
As part of Chesser’s online campaign, he also posted videos of terrorist attacks, instructions in support of violent jihad, the entire security screening manual used by the Transportation Security Administration, and hundreds of books about defense tactics, weaponry and aircraft.