By Carol Cratty
A Pennsylvania man was sentenced Tuesday 102 months–eight and a half years– in prison for using the Internet to encourage others to commit acts of terrorism and for using a gun during a scuffle with FBI agents, the Justice Department said.
During court proceedings in Pittsburgh, prosecutors said Emerson Begolly, 22, was an administrator of an Islamic extremist forum called Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum.
According to the government, Begolly used the pseudonym Abu Nancy and "systematically solicited jihadists to use firearms, explosives and propane tanks against targets such as police stations, post offices, Jewish schools and daycare centers, military facilities, train lines, bridges, cell phone towers and water plants."
During the summer of 2010, the government said Begolly called on jihadists to "write their legacy in blood" and said those who committed violence in the name of Allah would receive a special place in the afterlife.
He not only encouraged those on the forum. He also tried to give them some instructions to put into use. In December 2010, he posted a manual on how to make bombs.
The same month, he applauded a series of shootings at military buildings in Northern Virginia that included the Pentagon.
Begolly said he hoped the shooter took his actions after being inspired by his postings. No one was injured in those shootings and a suspect was caught.
"The case against Mr. Begolly is an important reminder that online-inspired terrorism can occur anywhere, including Western Pennsylvania, said Gary Perdue, an FBI agent in charge of the Pittsburgh field office.
In January 2011, two FBI agents approached Begolly to try to question him. He was seated in a parked car outside a fast food restaurant. Begolly got into a physical struggle with the agents in which he bit them on their fingers. The agents found a loaded 9 mm handgun concealed under Begolly's coat.
Begolly pleaded guilty in August 2011 to the charges filed in Virginia and Pennsylvania.