ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A Virginia man who expressed his love for beheadings has been sentenced to over eight years in prison for seeking to assist the barbaric Islamic group known as ISIS.
Haris Qamar, 26, of Burke had plead guilty in October to attempting to provide material support for the terrorist organization. He was arrested in July.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life,” he said in a letter to the court on Feb. 17. “This one especially has stained my soul.”
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Qamar told an undercover FBI agent last year that he needed photographs of possible terror targets in the Washington, D.C. area for a propaganda video that ISIS was creating to encourage lone wolf attacks. He provided suggestions, and the two traveled together to various sites in the capital region to take pictures.
The meeting was secretly recorded by the government, which captured Qamar stating, “Bye bye D.C., stupid [expletive] kufar, kill’ em all.” Kufar refers to non-Muslims or infidels.
During discussions, “Qamar expressed his interest and excitement in the extreme violence associated with ISIL. Qamar said he loved the bodies, blood and beheadings,” the Department of Justice outlines. “Qamar said he recalled watching a video of a Kurdish individual being slaughtered, and he liked the cracking sound made when the individual’s spinal cord was torn.”
He also allegedly expressed his admiration for lone wolf terrorists, who he considered to be martyrs, and advised that he advocated the concept of suicide bombing. Qamar had posted videos and photos of beheadings and shootings on his more than 60 Twitter accounts, where he also declared his support for ISIS.
Qamar had likewise divulged during the course of the investigation that he had tried to join ISIS in 2014—and even purchased a plane ticket to Turkey—but was not able to follow through with his plans because his parents confiscated his passport and threatened to turn him in to the authorities.
The undercover agent reportedly asked Qamar if he would join ISIS if his father, who he denounced as a traitor to Islam, returned his passport.
In that case, “I’m done. I leave,” Qamar replied.
Last Friday, Qamar expressed his remorse in a letter to the court, but said he was attracted to joining ISIS in that it was a way to escape his family life.
“I said many foolish things and did foolish things, trying to bring some excitement to my life,” he wrote. “Even when I was thinking or talked about going overseas, I thought how much easier life would be not having to deal with the massive dysfunction of my family, tired of being a mediator between my father and brother or telling my parents about my failing college career or the financial stresses of the household.”
Earlier this month, two of Qamar’s friends—Soufian Amri, 32, of Falls Church, and Michael Queen, 28, of Woodbridge—were arrested and charged with obstructing justice, as well as conspiring to provide false statements to the federal government during its investigation of Qamar.
Qamar will be placed under 20 years of supervised release after serving his prison term.