Prosecutor, police chief discuss York ISIS teen plot
York, SC - Following the deadly ISIS-related terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the threat of radical Islam in America is once again a major topic for conversation.
That threat was realized in York, S.C. in February of this year when law enforcement uncovered a 16-year-old Muslim boy’s plan to join ISIS and kill American soldiers.
"I had been alerted by law enforcement that they were conducting an investigation into a juvenile who had been in possession of some firearms, and in particular a pistol, which a juvenile is not allowed to have,” said 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett.
The teen was arrested and initially said the gun was for self-defense, but a search of his house reveled he had an ISIS flag and a computer full of ISIS related material.
"He was following the events in Syria which is where his family was from and he had a lot of animosity towards the Assad regime and ultimately his dream was to travel to Syria and join ISIS," Solicitor Brackett said.
York Police Chief Andy Robinson says his detectives interrogated the boy and learned he had been in contact with a radical Muslim near Raleigh.
"They took the interview a little further into an interrogation, and we're able to get him to speak with them pretty freely, he said the Quran said he was to tell the truth, and he wanted to do what the Quran says," Andy Robinson, York Chief of Police.
The boy confessed to having a plan to join with the radicalized man, rob a gun store to get more powerful weaponry, then drive to a military base in North Carolina to kill American soldiers.
"That's when we decided we need to get someone a little more proficient in the area of terrorism involved," Chief Robinson said.
The FBI was called in and took over the terrorism aspect of the case. The boy was never charged with any terror related offenses, possibly because he's a juvenile.
As a state prosecutor, Brackett could only go after the teen for the gun charge.
"He ultimately pled guilty to that and received basically the maximum a family judge could give a juvenile in this situation," Solicitor Brackett said.
The teen was ordered to juvenile detention until the age of 21.
In courtroom audio from the Rock Hill Herald, the teen appeared to show remorse.
"I won't ever come by this stuff again. It was just...I just regret it. If I get out, I hope so, I'm going to be a completely different person," the teen said.
"Obviously this is something he was serious about. At the same time we're watching people get beheaded on television. Isis is putting out these videos and this is something that appalled everybody who saw it, but it was something he looked at and embraced and that is disturbing," Solicitor Brackett said.
"The propaganda apparently had gotten through to him, and they'd taken advantage of this young man and were able to instill their beliefs in him," Robinson said.
Solicitor Brackett says the teen will likely be out of jail before he turns 21-years-old and they don't know what will happen when he gets out, because the government didn't charge him.
Authorities believe he was self-radicalized and was never in contact with ISIS, but they do think he made several attempts to reach out to them.