CHARLESTON, SC (FOX 46) - An 18-year-old South Carolina man made an appearance in federal court on Wednesday after he was arrested by the FBI last week for allegedly trying to join ISIS and kill Americans.
Zakaryia Abdin was arrested at a TSA checkpoint at Charleston International Aiport before he planned to board a flight to Amman, Jordan, where he planned to meet up with an undercover FBI agent and wage jihad.
Abdin pleaded not guilty to his charges of Providing Material Support or Attempting to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
According to his federal complaint, the FBI had been keeping tabs on Abdin over the past year, and Abdin had been communicating with an undercover agent whom he thought was a fellow jihadist.
Abdin allegedly referred the the Orlando nightclub shooter as his “brother”, and said “I heard all over the news when he did it…And I was going to do the same thing one month later…but I did not have weapons…So I saved and saved…Got weapons.”
Abdin asked the undercover agent if Omar Mateen acted alone. When he said yes, Abdin said “They will pay the price with their blood.”
Abdin allegedly pleaded with the agent, “Please lace me against [The Americans]…Please akhi, please. Just American, I will fight them until death, wallahi wallahi [I swear, I swear]. Abdin said in the discussion that he wanted to “go to the frontlines” and that “blood and death do not frighten me.”
The complaint also alleges that Abdin sent a video to the undercover agent where he pledged allegiance to ISIS’ leader, saying “I am pledging allegiance to the Emir of the faithful Abu Bakar Al Baghdadi”, and swore to “wage jihad against the enemy of Allah and to establish an Islamic State.”
Abdin also allegedly told the undercover agent “If anything goes wrong and I feel like I will get caught, I am prepared to do anything you need here. Biithnilah [God willing]. Anywhere.” FBI agents believe this was a threat of a terrorist attack on American soil.
The federal complaint says Abdin saved up money to buy weapons, but later sold the weapons for an airline ticket.
Abdin was previously arrested by York police in 2015 on a gun charge when he was a juvenile. During the course of that investigation, police found ISIS materials and propaganda in his room, and Abdin admitted to plotting to join ISIS. York police told FOX 46 Charlotte Abdin admitted to an elaborate plan to detonate a box truck at Fort Bragg, North Carolina to kill American soldiers, and then snipe first responders when they arrived on scene.
Because South Carolina has no terror laws on the books for juveniles, the judge could only sentence Abdin to the gun charge, and gave him the maximum sentence of 5 years.
After spending only one year in jail, the South Carolina Juvenile Parole Board granted him parole, against the wishes of local law enforcement, who warned he was a threat to the public.
“I just can't see how he's being released back into society at this time,” York Police Chief Andy Robinson told FOX 46 Charlotte after Abdin’s release. “The plot was very elaborate, he was very detailed, he was very forthcoming, he didn't mind telling us that he planned to kill soldiers or police officers or whoever got in his way. "The Board, they know the seriousness of this, we reiterated it, and the first time I went down and spoke to them I told them I was gonna do everything in my power to keep him in custody, and keeping my community safe, and I feel like I've done everything that I can, so it does fall back on them.”
During a parole hearing before his release in May of 2016, Abdin told the judge “I won't ever come by this stuff again. It was just...I just regret it. If I get out, I hope so, I'm going to be a completely different person.”