By Chris Kenning
(Reuters) – An Ohio man who professed support for the Islamic State militant group has pleaded guilty to soliciting the murder of U.S. military personnel, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Terrence McNeil, 24, of Akron, Ohio, pleaded guilty to five counts of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and five counts of making threatening interstate communications, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
Under the terms of his plea, McNeil faces between 15 and 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 2.
McNeil’s attorney, Nathan Ray, could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland said the plea was entered on Tuesday in federal court.
Prosecutors say McNeil spread Islamic State’s violent rhetoric, circulated information about U.S. military personnel, and explicitly called for them to be killed.
“Now, he will be held accountable,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord said in the statement.
According to prosecutors, in 2015 McNeil posted online “kill lists” with the names and addresses of 100 U.S. military members and asked others to murder them on behalf of Islamic State, to which he had professed support on social media.
“Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking that they are safe,” one of his online posts read, according to the Justice Department’s statement.
Stephen Anthony, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland division, said federal law enforcement authorities aggressively defend people’s First Amendment rights, but that McNeil’s actions “went far beyond free speech.”
(Reporting by Chris Kenning in Chicago; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Matthew Lewis)
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