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July 2010


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Ex-High School Football Player Arrested in Bid to Join Terrorist Group; Made Threats About South Park Show


By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — A 20-year-old Virginia man, who made threats against the TV show “South Park”, was arrested Wednesday on charges of providing material support to al Shabaab, a terrorist organization in Somalia with links to al Qaeda, authorities said.

Zachary Adam Chesser, 20, of Fairfax County, Va., who according to a report in the Washington Post, was a high school football player and rowed crew, told federal agents that he twice tried to travel to Somalia to join the al Shabaab as a foreign fighter, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria said.

He was not charged for his online posting in April that said the creators of the TV show “South Park” risked death by mocking the Prophet Muhammad, according to the Associated Press

On July 10, he tried boarding a flight from New York to Uganda, but he was on the no-fly list, authorities said, adding that he brought his infant son with him as a “cover” to avoid detection.

Authorities said a court affidavit shows he submitted to a series of interviews with federal law enforcement and told of how he maintained multiple online profiles dedicated to extremist jihad propaganda.

“These profiles were allegedly used by Chesser to post pro-jihad messages and videos online,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release. “These postings allegedly included an article detailing the prerequisites involved in leaving for jihad, which closely follows the steps Chesser took before his July 10 attempt to leave the United States in order to go fight in Somalia.”

“This case exposes the disturbing reality that extreme radicalization can happen anywhere, including Northern Virginia,” U.S. Attorney Neil H.  MacBride said in a statement. “This young man is accused of seeking to join al Shabaab, a brutal terrorist organization with ties to al Qaeda. These allegations underscore the need for continued vigilance against homegrown terror threats.”

“We can’t fight terrorists alone,” Shawn Henry, head of the FBI’s Washington field office added in a statement. “Religious leaders of all faiths, family members and particularly the younger members of our communities need to speak up and speak out against individuals who participate in actions like those alleged here.”

Read detailed Washington Post story

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