ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP/WSPA) – A North Carolina man accused of plotting a U.S. terror attack pleaded guilty was sentenced to life in prison.
Justin Sullivan of Morganton is also accused of killing his neighbor and stealing his money so he could buy an assault rifle to carry out an IS-inspired shooting at a concert or club.
Sullivan will also be observed by a doctor to determine if he is predisposed to schizophrenia.
The defense argued if he was placed in a high security prison it could trigger schizophrenia.
The state also asked for a determination on the Clarke murder, but the judge declined and only ruled on the acts of terror.
The judge said he didn’t need to make a decision on the homicide case because that is the state’s responsibility and because there was enough to probe the intent to commit an act of terror.
Prosecutors say Sullivan spoke with Junaid Hussain in June 2015 via social media about making a video of a terrorist attack in the U.S. to be used by the militant group. Hussain was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Syria in August 2015.
Prosecutors said in a statement that Sullivan pleaded guilty to attempting to commit an act of terrorism – planning to kill hundreds of innocent people to prove his allegiance to the terrorist group ISIL.
Prosecutors say Sullivan also admitted to regular contact with Junaid Hussain, one of ISIL’s prominent members in Syria, who asked Sullivan to make a video of the deadly attack.
“It is frightening to know that the defendant in this case was able to use social media to contact and seek advice from ISIL, a murderous organization,” Rose said.
Prosecutors said Sullivan watched violent ISIL attacks on the Internet, including beheadings, expressed support for the group and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents.
He also told an undercover FBI employee that he planned to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at a gun show and tried buying hollow point ammunition to use with the gun in June 2015.