The American Kafir


‘South Park’ critic in Va. faces unrelated terror charge

Source: Washington Times


MCLEAN, VA. (AP) — A Virginia man who posted an online warning to the creators of “South Park” that they risked death by mocking the Prophet Muhammad will spend at least one more day in jail on separate charges of trying to join a Somali terror group linked to al Qaeda.

Zachary A. Chesser, 20, of Oakton, Va., made an initial appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on charges of providing material support to the group al-Shabab. He has not been charged in the “South Park” posting.

A detention hearing was set for Friday, and Mr. Chesser requested a court-appointed lawyer.

Mr. Chesser has told FBI agents that he twice tried to travel to Somalia to join al-Shabab as a fighter. On the most recent attempt, earlier this month, Mr. Chesser brought his infant son with him as he tried to board a flight from New York to Uganda so he would look less suspicious, according to an FBI affidavit.

Mr. Chesser was barred from the July 10 flight and told by the Transportation Security Administration that he was on the no-fly list, according to the affidavit.

While Mr. Chesser told the FBI that he had intended on July 10 to join al-Shabab, he told them in a July 14 interview that he subsequently changed his mind because of the July 11 bombing in Uganda that killed more than 75 people watching the World Cup, for which al-Shabab claimed responsibility.

But the affidavit from FBI agent Mary Brandt Kinder states that FBI agents first interviewed Mr. Chesser in May 2009, and even then he claimed to have moderated his extremist views.

Mr. Chesser admitted to the FBI that his intent had been to join al-Shabab, according to the affidavit. He had corresponded with al-Shabab members and expected to undergo a six-week basic training and then serve as a “foreign fighter” with al-Shabab in Mogadishu. According to the affidavit, Mr. Chesser expected he would be asked to serve as a propagandist but that he had been willing to fight on the front lines.

His first attempt to join al-Shabab came in November, when he planned to travel with his wife to Kenya and make his way to Somalia, possibly by speedboat. But Mr. Chesser wrote in his journal, which he described as a “real-life ‘how-to guide’ on how to reach the fields of jihad,” that his mother-in-law took his wife’s passport and wouldn’t give it back, thwarting his plans.

The affidavit also states that Mr. Chesser wrote to the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki last year and received two responses. Al-Awlaki is a U.S. citizen now living in Yemen who recently has been designated a terrorist by the U.S. government. Al-Awlaki is believed to have corresponded with several alleged terrorists, including Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people in November at Fort Hood, Texas.

Mr. Chesser, who also used the name Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, which designates his American heritage, also told authorities that he used several online profiles to spread terrorist propaganda. One of those sites was Al-Qimmah, which Chesser described as the official forum for al-Shabab. According to the affidavit, Mr. Chesser admitted posting videos and other propaganda on behalf of al-Shabab members.

The affidavit makes only a brief mention of Chesser‘s warnings to the “South Park” creators, saying that Mr. Chesser told authorities his parents were no longer speaking to him because of death threats they received after Mr. Chesser posted his warnings.

In April, Mr. Chesser posted a warning on the website that Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of “South Park,” could face the same fate as a Dutch filmmaker who was killed after making a movie about a woman who rejected Muhammad’s teachings. An episode of the show depicted Muhammad in a bear costume.

At the time, Mr. Chesser said his online posting was not a threat.

“It’s not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome,” Mr. Chesser told “They’re going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It’s just the reality.”

“This case exposes the disturbing reality that extreme radicalization can happen anywhere, including Northern Virginia,” Neil MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.

Mr. Chesser‘s Facebook page indicates he graduated from Oakton High School in Fairfax County in 2008. He attended classes for one semester in the fall of 2008 at George Mason University, according to GMU spokesman Dan Walsch.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said he had no information on whether Mr. Chesser currently has a lawyer.


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