State News

NC man pleads guilty to plotting terrorism

Posted 1:01 p.m. Tuesday

Justin Nojan Sullivan
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— A Morganton man pleaded guilty Tuesday to planning an Islamic State-inspired attack in North Carolina and Virginia.

Justin Nojan Sullivan, 20, pleaded guilty in federal court in Asheville to attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Under the plea agreement, both prosecutors and the defense have agreed that a life sentence is appropriate.

"Justin Sullivan planned to kill hundreds of innocent people. He pledged his support to ISIL and took calculated steps to commit a murderous rampage to prove his allegiance to the terrorist organization," John Strong , special agent-in-charge for the FBI's Charlotte office, said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Sullivan tried to purchase an assault weapon and hollow-point ammunition to carry out mass shootings at concerts or nightclubs and had someone who was working undercover for the FBI build a silencer that he could use in the attack. Sullivan also asked the undercover informant to kill his parents after his mother found the silencer, believing they would interfere with his plans, prosecutors said.

Sullivan was arrested at his home in June 2015, and authorities linked a gun he had hidden in the crawl space to the December 2014 shooting death of his 74-year-old neighbor, John Bailey Clark. Authorities said Sullivan stole money from Clark to finance his weapons purchases.

Burke County prosecutors are handling the murder charge against Sullivan in Clark's death.

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  • Catherine Edwards Nov 29, 2:11 p.m.
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    You plan to murder - your life's over too.