A six-count indictment was filed today charging an Akron, Ohio, man for soliciting the murder of members of the U.S. military.
Terrence J. McNeil, 25, was indicted on three counts of solicitation of a crime of violence and three counts of threatening military personnel. He was arrested on Nov. 12, 2015, on federal charges that he solicited the murder of members of the U.S. military.
The charge was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the Northern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI’s Cleveland Division.
“According to the indictment, Terrence McNeil solicited the murder of members of our military by disseminating ISIL’s violent rhetoric, circulating detailed U.S. military personnel information and explicitly calling for the killing of American service members in their homes and communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “ISIL and its followers continue to use social media in an attempt to incite violence around the world, including in the United States. The National Security Division's highest priority is counterterrorism and we will use all of our tools to disrupt threats and acts of violence against our military members and their families.”
“We owe it to our servicemen and women to protect their safety at home after they fought abroad to protect our freedom,” said U.S. Attorney Dettelbach. “This defendant is charged with urging harm to our men and women in uniform and will now answer for those threats.”
“While we aggressively defend First Amendment rights, the individual arrested went far beyond free speech by reposting names and addresses of 100 U.S. service members, all with the intent to have them killed,” said Special Agent in Charge Anthony. “We will remain vigilant in our efforts to stop those who wish to support these despicable acts.”
According to the indictment:
McNeil maintained social media accounts on several social media web sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. He repeatedly professed his support on social media for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
On or about Sept. 24, 2015, using a Tumblr account, McNeil reblogged a file with the banner “Islamic State Hacking Division,” followed by “Target: United States Military” and “Leak: Addresses of 100 U.S. Military Personnel.”
The file type is a .gif file, which allows multiple still images to be looped in one file, with a timed delay between each image. The text of the first file reads “O Brothers in America, know that the jihad against the crusaders is not limited to the lands of the Khilafah, it is a world-wide jihad and their war is not just a war against the Islamic State, it is a war against Islam…Know that it is wajib (translated to “necessary”) for you to kill these kuffar! and now we have made it easy for you by giving you addresses, all you need to do is take the final step, so what are you waiting for? Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking that they are safe…”
The file then loops several dozen photographs, purportedly of U.S. military personnel, along with their respective name, address and military branch.
The final image looped is a picture of a handgun and a knife with text that reads “…and kill them wherever you find them…”
On Oct. 3, 2015, McNeil posted on his Twitter account: “Released - Address of the US Navy Seal [R.O] who killed Sheikh Osama Bin Laden R.A. - #GoForth #RunRobertRun.”
The defendant included in his post an embedded link that when clicked revealed the purported address of R.O. and a link to R.O.’s purported photograph. The link further stated that R.O. “is a mummy’s boy who has been trying to hide yet still lives with his father…and mother…In between going around America to conferences boasting at how his ‘claim to fame’ is killing Sheikh Osama Bin Laden R.A. …I am posting his address to brothers & to Al Qaeda in the U.S. as a number one target.”
On Oct. 3, 2015, McNeil posted the content regarding R.O. and his address and photograph from the embedded link described above onto his Tumblr page. McNeil added the statement, “don’t let this kafir sleep peacefully,” to his Tumblr post.
If convicted, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. Each solicitation count carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and each threat count carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison.
An indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. It is the government’s burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and a defendant is presumed innocent until that time.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Cleveland. This case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Ohio and the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.