Radicalized Muslim convert who threatened ‘South Park’ show creators pleads guilty
The leader of a domestic radicalized Muslim group who called for violent retaliation against the creators of the South Park television program pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy and threatening communications charges.
In a federal courtroom in Alexandria, VA, Jesse Morton, who is also called Younus Abdullah Muhammed, 33, pleaded guilty to using his position as a leader of Revolution Muslim Organization’s Internet sites to conspire to solicit murder, make threatening communications, and use the Internet to place others in fear. Morton was arrested in Morocco last May. Morton and his co-conspirator Zachary Chesser had threatened the creators of the television cartoon and other Western media for their satiric depictions of the Prophet Mohammad. Chesser pleaded guilty to charges of aiding the terror group Al Shabaab in 2010.
Morton faces a maximum penalty five years in prison for each of the three charges when he is sentenced in May 18, said the FBI.
Through his online forums, the FBI said Morton conspired with Chesser and others to solicit the murder of an artist tied to the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” movement in May 2010, including posting online a magazine that included the artist in a hit list for violent extremists to take out and a message from Anwar Al-Awlaki that explicitly called for the artist’s assassination. In justifying these actions, Morton posted online a speech of his asserting that “Islam’s position is that those that insult the Prophet may be killed” and exhorting his listeners to fight the “disbelievers near you.”
In addition, Morton admitted that he helped Chesser in April 2010 to encourage violent extremists to attack the writers of South Park for an episode that featured Muhammad in a bear suit, including highlighting their residence and urging online readers to “pay them a visit.” The men also posted messages on the Web site and extremist forums encouraging violence against the writers. Chesser told Morton that he expected the statement would “scare the kuffar.” Kuffar is an Arabic term, referring to an unbeliever, or disbeliever, in Islam.
“Jesse Morton operated Revolution Muslim to radicalize those who saw and heard his materials online and to incite them to engage in violence against those they believed to be enemies of Islam,” said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride in a Feb. 9 statement. “We may never know all of those who were inspired to engage in terrorism because of Revolution Muslim, but the string of recent terrorism cases with ties to Morton’s organization demonstrates the threat it posed to our national security. We’re grateful to the FBI, NYPD, and their law enforcement partners throughout the world who made today’s conviction possible.”
“Fortunately, NYPD Intelligence Division detectives were in a position to learn exactly how Morton used the Internet to conspire to solicit murder, and how he encouraged others to solicit the murder of an artist whose material he deemed offensive,” said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “This important plea resulted because the NYPD’s monitoring of Morton’s activities, combined with the investigative and prosecutorial expertise of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Virginia, made for a strong case, in addition to a strong partnership.”