Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 20, 2010

Zac Chesser pleads guilty to federal terrorism charges

Filed under: Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on October 20, 2010

In July we reported and discussed the arrest of Zachary Chesser.  Today he pleaded guilty to several federal charges.  The following is from a Department of Justice media release.


Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, of Fairfax County, Va., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady to a three-count criminal information that included charges of communicating threats against the writers of the South Park television show, soliciting violent jihadists to desensitize law enforcement, and attempting to provide material support to Al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization… Chesser faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 25, 2011. 

 “The defendant attempted to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and used the Internet to incite violence.  Thankfully, his commitment to violence was outmatched by the dedicated work of the agents, prosecutors and analysts who worked tirelessly to bring this man to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General David Kris.  “Today’s guilty plea is a direct result of the partnership and cooperation between the National Security Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI.”

Read the full DOJ statement.

Read previous coverage and discussion by HLSWatch.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 20, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

Strangely I did not comment on the earlier post. So perhaps this is partly a makeup for that oversight. The criminal justice system is one of the great engines of society and allows it to keep operating and on track. Unfortunately, it is a crude instrument in many ways that involves elements of prevention, protection, revenge, rehabilitation and simple justice. The question of being fully accountable for your actions is often postponed in our society but clearly Zach has reached that accounting. Assuming the guilty pleas avoided a full trial, that system has both merits and demerits. Personally not enough is known about this case to me to allow a judgement as to whether he could have been reached and redirected to a different path. My hope is always that the attempt is made and successful but clearly some are beyond reach. From the facts presented I consider that equation in Zach’s case as unknown. What I do know is that the nation’s penal system is full of those that I would consider radical in their religious beliefs, including Islam among others. So like the criminals who gain knowledge in prison it is possible that ZACH will be more radical over time and if ever paroled more of a threat. Perhaps not. I am curious about the quality of his representation? Would that quality have made a difference or should it have made a difference it is one of the “ifs” which now don’t count.

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