Former National Guard Specialist Pleads Guilty to Terrorism Plot

Gavel at rest

A former Illinois Army National Guard specialist faces up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to a plot to join Islamic State overseas while his cousin attacked the Joliet facility where he had been stationed.

Hasan Edmonds, 23, of Aurora, kept his hands clasped behind him and answered "guilty" in a low monotone as he was asked for his plea to one count each of conspiring to and attempting to provide material support and resources to a terrorist group. U.S. District Judge John Lee set sentencing for March 18.

His cousin, Jonas Edmonds, pleaded guilty last week to similar charges.

Hasan Edmonds, a specialist with the Joliet-based 634th Brigade Support Battalion, was arrested in March after his cousin dropped him off at Midway Airport for his planned trip overseas, federal prosecutors said.

The day before, the two had traveled to the Joliet Armory, where Hasan Edmonds had trained with the Illinois National Guard, to scout the facility for an attack with AK-47 assault rifles and grenades that they hoped would kill as many as 150 people, according to a criminal complaint filed in March.

Jonas Edmonds, 30, was going to carry out the attack while wearing his cousin's uniform from his service, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kness told the judge. Hasan Edmonds also told his cousin where soldiers would be training inside the facility and where "ranking" members would be located.

According to the charges, the FBI began investigating the cousins late last year when agents discovered they had devised a plan for Hasan to travel overseas and use his military training to fight for Islamic State.

Beginning in January, Hasan Edmonds had several online exchanges with a person he thought was an Islamic State fighter in Libya, saying that if he was unable to get to Syria, he would stay in the U.S. and "fight and die here in the name of Allah," according to the charges. In a message Jan. 30, he told the person -- who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent -- that the best way to beat the U.S. and its Army was to "break their will," according to the complaint.

"With the U.S., no matter how many you kill they will keep coming unless the soldiers and the American public no longer have the will to fight," Edmonds wrote, according to the complaint. "If we can break their spirits we will win."

On Feb. 2, Hasan Edmonds contacted the undercover agent again and said his cousin was willing to carry out the attack on U.S. soil.

"Honestly we would love to do something like the brother in Paris did," Hasan Edmonds allegedly wrote in a reference to the January terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine's headquarters in France in which 16 people were slain.

The Edmondses are among a string of terrorism-related cases stemming from Chicago's suburbs.

In 2013, federal authorities charged Aurora resident Abdella Ahmad Tounisi with providing material support to terrorists after he allegedly pledged on a fake recruitment website -- secretly operated by the FBI -- to join terrorists in Syria.

Last year, Bolingbrook teen Mohammed Hamzah Khan was charged with plotting to join Islamic State after he was arrested at O'Hare International Airport, where authorities alleged he and his two younger siblings were about to board a flight to Istanbul.

Tounisi and Khan have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

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