NC man who plotted terrorist attack as part of ISIS gets life in prison

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Justin Sullivan

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A North Carolina man was sentenced Tuesday morning to life in prison for planning a terrorist attack as part of ISIS, WLOS reports.

21-year-old Justin Sullivan, of Morganton, communicated with members of ISIS through social media, documents say. Sullivan was 19 when he was charged in 2015. He pleaded guilty last November.

Sullivan also pleaded guilty to providing material support to ISIS by buying weapons and planning to kill hundreds of innocent people.

The 21-year-old stood before the court saying multiple times that he is “Not a bad person.” He acknowledged he is Muslim and said “Things just happened,” and that he doesn’t want people to misjudge him.

He never apologized or acknowledged wrongdoing.

The federal prosecutors argued that Sullivan knew that what he was doing was wrong because of where evidence was found.

They say a rifle with a silencer, a black mask, and a lock-pick kit were found under a tarp in the basement of Sullivan’s home.

“He had hidden the items, he was hiding them from his parents. He tried to destroy evidence, and so certainly he knew that what he was doing was wrong, that it was criminal, and he was trying to avoid detection at all costs,” said Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District.

The defense argued that Sullivan has mental health issues and shows signs of developing schizophrenia, the station reports. They do not want him in a maximum security prison.

“No. We were never aware of that at all, or we would have helped,” father Rich Sullivan said of his son’s psychological issues.

Sullivan is also charged with killing his 74-year-old neighbor, John Clark.

The prosecution revealed in court that the murder happened just six months before Sullivan reached out to ISIS about planning a mass-casualty attack.

Sullivan will stand trial for the death of Clark in a separate state case at a later date and could face the death penalty.

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