Va. man pleads guilty to marking DC-area targets for ISIS

- A Virginia man pleaded guilty Monday on charges he attempted to provide material support to the Islamic State by photographic targets around the Washington, D.C. area. Prosecutors say 26-year-old Haris Qamar of Burke, Va. thought he was contributing to a video that would encourage lone-wolf terrorist attacks in the nation’s capital.

Qamar was arrested in July after coming to the attention of authorities through Twitter posts about supporting terrorist attacks. The FBI set up a sting operation where Qamar worked with an informant to film DC landmarks, and Qamar was recorded saying “bye-bye DC” as he was filming at the Pentagon, an affidavit said. According to the affidavit, he went on to say he hates the United States and gets a “burning sensation in my body because this place is so disgusting.”

Court documents reveal during numerous conversations with the informant, Qamar expressed his interest and excitement in the extreme violence ISIS is known for, saying he loved bodies, blood and beheadings.
Qamar faces up to 20 years in prison, and will be sentenced on January 6, 2017.

“Ensuring the safety of our community is the top priority of my office, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to locate, identify and prosecute those who choose to engage in terrorist activities,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“This case demonstrates the reach terrorist organizations have through social media and the threat that they pose to our national security,” said Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  “When Qamar could not travel overseas, he attempted to assist ISIL’s propaganda campaign for the purpose of inspiring loan wolf attacks in the Washington, D.C. area.  Qamar operated over numerous social media accounts where he proselytized ISIL’s message and praised the terrorist group when they committed gruesome acts. Today’s plea is the result of the hard work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force working around the clock to protect this country from those who seek to do us harm.”

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