Crime

He grew up in York and twice tried to join ISIS to kill Americans. Now comes prison.

York teen in court for plotting to join ISIS

File video from 2015: A York boy, whose family is from Syria, was charged as a juvenile on a gun charge in York but investigators learned that he was plotting to join ISIS in Syria to fight “jihad” and had linked up with a more militant Muslim in
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File video from 2015: A York boy, whose family is from Syria, was charged as a juvenile on a gun charge in York but investigators learned that he was plotting to join ISIS in Syria to fight “jihad” and had linked up with a more militant Muslim in

Zakaryia Abdin grew up in York, where he went to York schools and worked washing dishes at his parents’ restaurant.

Then Abdin twice tried to join ISIS to kill Americans, authorities said in several court cases related to Abdin’s case. The first time he was just 16 years old and still a student at York Comprehensive High School, The Herald previously reported.

The second time came after law enforcement officials and others repeatedly tried to warn South Carolina parole officials that Abdin was a threat to Americans despite being caught, The Herald previously reported.

Monday in federal court in Charleston, Abdin will be sentenced to as much as 20 years in federal prison.

Abdin, now 20, is scheduled for court at 10 a.m. after pleading guilty in August 2018 to attempting to provide material support to the terrorist group ISIS, according to federal prosecutors and court documents.

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said that he and other law enforcement officials plan to be at the sentencing.

“This is a person who has shown he is a threat to the public of York County, South Carolina and America,” Tolson said.

Sheriff’s office detective Bob Hamilton, a former FBI agent who repeatedly warned that Abdin was a threat to the public and still wanted to join ISIS, also is expected to attend the sentencing hearing. Hamilton may be allowed to speak in court.

After his release from juvenile detention in 2016, Abdin again plotted to join ISIS and kill Americans, federal prosecutors and FBI agents said. Agents had monitored his activities and intercepted communications where Abdin told an undercover FBI operative that he wanted to be a martyr and that victims would “pay the price with their blood.”

Abdin, of Syrian heritage, was arrested by the FBI in 2017 in Charleston before he could board a plane for Jordan. He has been in jail ever since.

In 2015, York Police Department officers arrested Abdin when he was 16 years old on a weapons charge after he was caught in communication with others trying to plot an attack on military groups and civilians in North Carolina. Abdin had an ISIS flag in his bedroom and plotted an attack on soldiers, police said.

Abdin admitted to law enforcement after his arrest in 2015 that he would kill officers and civilians if anyone interfered with his ISIS plans, law enforcement officials said.

Because of his age and status as a juvenile, Abdin was convicted in York County Family Court in 2015 of the weapons charge, prosecutors said.

Abdin was sent to juvenile detention in Columbia, where he could be until age 21.

When asking to be paroled in 2016, Abdin claimed he had changed and no longer wanted to join ISIS.

Law enforcement from York County asked parole officials to keep Abdin in custody, saying he was still a threat.

“We tried to protect the people of this community, this state and America by arresting him and asking that he be kept in jail after he was convicted,” said Andy Robinson, York Police Department chief.

Abdin was released by South Carolina’s juvenile parole board.

York Police Chief Andy Robinson said the South Carolina juvenile justice system "has failed us."

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.
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