A Lowcountry man who allegedly tried to leave the U.S. to join up with terrorist group ISIS pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday, according to the Department of Justice.
Zakaryia Abdin, 19, of Ladson, appeared in a Charleston court to change his plea for charges of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
Abdin initially was arrested in March 2017 after he was caught by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force at the Charleston International Airport. He was attempting to board a flight to Jordan in the Middle East.
In Jan. 2017, Abdin opened an account on social media, which he used to try to join ISIS, according to a statement from the Department of Justice. He soon visited a member of the FBI in Mount Pleasant, where he was warned about the FBI’s role in counter-terrorism investigations.
The FBI agent spelled out U.S. terrorism laws, and told him it was illegal to give any foreign terrorist organization, including ISIS, material support, according to the statement.
Regardless, Abdin began communicating with a person he believed was a member of ISIS. He had pledged his loyalty to the terrorist organization in 2014, and believed the person he was talking to would help him. Abdin was really communicating with an FBI agent.
During conversations with the covert FBI agent, Abdin said he wanted to fight alongside the organization, adding he was proficient with weapons like AK rifles, SKS rifles and pistols, according to the statement.
In 2015, Abdin was convicted of weapons charges in York County after he allegedly planned to rob a gun store and kill U.S. soldiers, according to the Rock Hill Herald. When he was arrested, he had an ISIS flag in his room, and the 16-year-old had a handgun.
He was paroled in 2016.
Abdin could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.