ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 20 (UPI) -- A 20-year-old Virginia man pleaded guilty Wednesday to threatening writers of the "South Park" animated TV show as part of his efforts to support jihad.
The U.S. Justice Department said Zachary Adam Chesser of Fairfax County, Va., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., to a three-count criminal information. The charges included communicating threats against the "South Park" writers, soliciting violent jihadists to desensitize law enforcement to suspicious packages and attempting to provide material support to al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization, federal prosecutors said in a release.
Chesser faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 25.
"Zachary Chesser seriously endangered the lives of innocent people who will remain at risk for many years to come," U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said. "His solicitation of extremists to murder U.S. citizens also caused people throughout the country to fear speaking out -- even in jest -- lest they also be labeled as enemies who deserved to be killed.
"In admitting his guilt today, Mr. Chesser reminded us of the serious threat homegrown jihadists pose to this country, and I express my gratitude and admiration for the FBI agents who apprehended Mr. Chesser before he could endanger even more Americans."
Authorities said Chesser maintained several online profiles dedicated to extremist jihad propaganda. He admitted in court taking repeated steps in April to encourage violent jihadists to attack the "South Park" writers for their depiction of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, including posting where they live, and urging online readers to "pay them a visit."
Court records show Chesser admitted he twice attempted to leave the United States and travel to Somalia for the purpose of joining al-Shabaab and engage in violent jihad.