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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 18, 2014

Law Enforcement Team Receives ADL SHIELD Award For Prosecuting Leaders Of Jihadist Websites

Operators of “Revolution Muslim” websites solicited murders, promoted violent extremism

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Federal prosecutors and members of law enforcement were honored yesterday with the Anti-Defamation League’s SHIELD Award for their role in the investigation and prosecution of three men who conspired to use the “Revolution Muslim” websites as a platform to solicit murder and promote violent extremism.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, accepted the award on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and he was joined at the ceremony by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Sergeant Kevin Branzetti of the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Intelligence Bureau.

According to court records, Jesse C. Morton and Yousef Mohamid Al-Khattab founded the Revolution Muslim websites in 2007 to encourage followers to terrorize perceived enemies of Islam.  Zachary A. Chesser, formerly of Fairfax, Virginia, joined Revolution Muslim in 2010 as a site administrator.

Morton, Chesser, al-Khattab and their associates used the organization’s Internet platforms to encourage adherents to support Usama bin Laden, Anwar Awlaki, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and others engaged in or espousing jihad.  In spring 2010, Morton and Chesser used Revolution Muslim’s online forums to solicit the murder of the South Park television show’s writers and a Seattle, Washington cartoonist for an alleged insult to Islam.  Chesser also used Revolution Muslim to promote what he called “Open Source Jihad” by posting information on the manufacture and use of explosives against civilians, law enforcement authorities and U.S. military forces at home and abroad.

In 2011, Chesser pleaded guilty to soliciting murder and attempting to support Al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist group based in Somalia, and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Feb. 24, 2011.  In 2012, Morton pleaded guilty to soliciting murder, and he was sentenced to nearly 12 years (138 months) in prison on June 22, 2012.  In 2013, Al-Khattab pleaded guilty to using the Internet to place others in fear of serious bodily injury or death, and he was sentenced to 30 months in prison on April 25, 2014.

The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gordon D. Kromberg, Thomas H. McQuillan, Tracy McCormick, Karen L. Dunn, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison Ickovic, with the assistance of Management Analyst Loraine McNeill of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Trial Attorneys John T. Gibbs and Mazen Basrawi from the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Civil Rights Division, respectively.

According to a media advisory issued by the Anti-Defamation League, the SHIELD Awards were created to honor law enforcement for “major achievements in the fight against hate crimes, domestic and international terrorism, and for protecting civil rights. . . . The award’s name reflects law enforcement’s role as protectors, and is also an acronym for the core values of the profession: Service, Honor, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership, and Dedication.”

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:10-cr-395 (Chesser), 1:12-cr-35 (Morton), and 1:13-cr-418 (Al-Khattab).

Updated April 23, 2015