PITTSBURGH — A judge has handed down an eight-and-a-half-year sentence to a man who pleaded guilty to using the Internet to promote terror attacks against American military and civilian targets.
Prosecutors said he promoted attacks in posts he made on an Islamic extremist web forum he moderated.
Emerson Begolly, 24, of Redbank Township, Armstrong County, also pleaded guilty to having a loaded pistol when he allegedly bit two FBI agents who tried to question him before his arrest in January 2011.
U.S. attorney David Hickton said, “Today, Emerson Begolly was sentenced to eight and a half years in federal prison for soliciting like-minded radical jihadists to commit atrocities and murder, and for using a concealed firearm during his assault on FBI agents.”
Begolly, whose Internet nickname was Abu Nancy, faced a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison on the weapons charge and up to 10 years on the one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
Hickton said he believes Begolly was “ready to kill.”
“Begolly boasted that if police came for him he would make Waco look like a tea party. He espoused it was acceptable to kill hostages,” said Hickton.
Begolly apologized “for the things I said on the web. I shamed my family. I want to follow a path of peace.”
U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill pronounced the sentence at the end of a lengthy hearing that was delayed by an hour while attorneys met with him in chambers. Neither the judge nor prosecutors explained why the sentence was significantly shorter than the 15 years called for by federal guidelines.
Because he will be credited for time served, Begolly can expect to be released before he is 30 years old.
“Besides providing specific direction, such as using propane tanks tied to the front of a truck to create a car bomb or using a pry bar to derail trains, Begolly emphasized detail on how to maximize the carnage or focus on specific types of vulnerable victims to enhance the success of the terror,” Mr. Kitchen wrote. He also provided a bombmaking manual to followers, the prosecutor wrote.
…according to Mr. Kitchen, Begolly “was claiming that when he was released from prison, he intended to kill his mother because she cooperated with the government in his apprehension.”