SUFFOLK, Va. — A Virginia man has pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to the barbaric Islamic group known as ISIS, which identifies itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Lionel Nelson Williams, 27, of Suffolk, entered the guilty plea on Wednesday after accepting a deal that would put him behind bars for 20 years. He still will appear for a sentencing hearing on Dec. 20.
As previously reported, according to an affidavit posted online by the U.S. Department of Justice, Williams had posted material favorable of ISIS to Facebook and ordered an AK-47 the day after the Dec. 2015 San Bernardino massacre.
“It’s time for me to take a stand. I stand with #Dawlah,” he also wrote in March 2016, referring to the Islamic State.
In conducting an investigation, an undercover FBI agent friended Williams on Facebook and advised that the two might be able to meet up.
“I can’t wait for the day that the black flag of Islam exists all over Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and Chicago,” Williams allegedly told the agent.
A month later, another agent met with Williams, who advised that he supports attacks on “hard targets,” and that if he were to personally carry out an attack, it would be on someone who could fight back. The government believes this means police or military forces.
The agent met with Williams again in October 2016, who posed as helping to connect Williams with a man who was collecting money for ISIS. He said that Williams could only give if he knew where the money was going. Williams allegedly replied that the funds were “going to the Islamic State. You understand this. And it’s going to kill people, do you understand?”
Williams also reportedly advised the agent that if he were to carry out an attack that resulted in his death, he wasn’t sure if it would be considered a “martyrdom operation” or suicide because he wondered whether his intentions were “pure.” He stated that a possible marriage arrangement might ensure his purity and thus his worthiness to be considered a martyr.
“In’shaa’AlIah it will be very soon. I’ve been preparing. I need to be married first,” Williams told the undercover agent, according to the affidavit. “After I marry and I acquire all my tools …. I’ll be going forth in’shaa’Allah, with or without.”
He was arrested in December after the FBI obtained a search warrant for his house. The AK-47 assault rifle that he had purchased following the San Bernardino attack was recovered after his arrest. He also reportedly told government agents that he supported ISIS and believed he was a part of a “holy war.”
A woman in Brazil who had been in a relationship with Williams was interviewed by FBI agents, and allegedly advised that Williams had said that he would “go at police with a gun and that he would die as a martyr in the process.”
Neither Williams’ attorneys or the federal government have commented on Wednesday’s plea agreement.
As previously reported, just last month, a Kansas man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to detonate a bomb on a U.S. military base. John Booker, Jr., 22, of Topeka, had pleaded guilty in February 2016 to one count each of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted destruction of government property by fire or explosion. He admitted that he had been plotting to detonate a car bomb at Fort Riley in a jihad suicide mission motivated by a desire to help ISIS.
In May, Gregory Lepsky, 20, of New Jersey was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization after he allegedly conspired to create and detonate a pressure cooker bomb in “a busy area in New York City in order to kill as many people as possible.”