A Morganton man faces 40 years in prison and more than a half million dollar fine for allegedly providing material support to the self proclaimed Islamic State. In charges, filed Monday, the FBI claims 19-year-old Justin Sullivan was plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States.
The federal complaint shows the investigation of Sullivan began in late April of this year, after his father made a call to 911. He reportedly told the operator his son was destroying Buddhas and other figurines in the house – and was pouring gasoline on the families religious icons. “I don’t know if it’s ISIS or what,” the father reportedly said, “We are scared to leave the house.”
Roughly two weeks later an undercover agent made contact with Sullivan. The charging documents claim Sullivan told the agent he became a Muslim because he liked the Islamic State, and that the best way to support the group was to remain in the United States. Sullivan also allegedly suggested the agent join what he called the Islamic State of North America. And he allegedly told the agent how to purchase a semi-automatic assault rifle at a gun show stating, “You only need $600 for the gun and bullets.”
The documents state Sullivan asked the agent to make silencers and find 100 round drum magazines for the guns. He also allegedly talked of coating the bullets with cyanide in order to increase the body count.
The FBI claims Sullivan wanted to launch attacks this month. Stating he told the undercover agent he would start with some “minor assassinations” for training before the big attack. And Sullivan wanted to go big, allegedly telling the agent he wanted a casualty count of 1,000 people.
Justin Sullivan was arrested on Friday without incident. The FBI reports Sullivan has admitted to initiating the conversation about terrorist attacks, and that he talked with the undercover agent. But it’s not clear if Sullivan had the wherewithal to actually follow through with any of this, he reportedly told the FBI he “didn’t mean it.”
The charging documents also state Justin Sullivan tried to hire the undercover agent to kill his parents. He is next due to appear at the federal court in Asheville on Wednesday.