MyFoxAtlanta reports that Leon Nathan Davis, a 37-year-old resident of Augusta, Georgia, has pleaded guilty in federal court on charges of “helping and attempting to join the ISIS terrorist organization.” Prosecutors say he could be looking at up to “15 years in prison, a lifetime of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.”
Davis was arrested by the FBI at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on October 24 while attempting to board a one-way flight to Turkey, whose borders he planned to slip across to join the Islamic State in Syria.
The offense cited at the time of his arrest was parole violation, stemming from his conviction on cocaine-trafficking charges in 2005. However, he landed on the counter-terrorist radar screen about a year before his arrest in Atlanta by using social media to get in touch with ISIS members. He was also charged with “illegal possession of rifles, shotguns, and handguns by a convicted felon,” according to WJBF News in Atlanta, but that charge was dropped as part of his plea deal.
According to the Associated Press, it was not clear from Davis’ half-hour plea hearing why he wanted to leave his family–a wife he married two years ago and a stepdaughter–and a good job working as a salesman for a mail-order medical supply company to join the Islamic State.
After converting to Islam, he used the names Abdul Wakil Khalil and Abu Hurairah al-Amreekee. WSB-TV News reports that FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Angela Tobon told the judge Davis “wanted to join ISIS and was willing to do whatever they need, including teaching or fighting.”
FBI agent Gutis Zunde added that “he wasn’t sure if he would be a fighter or possibly a recruiter for them,” according to the AP report.
In a statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia “commended the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force, the ATF, and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles” for their work on the case and thanked “the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service and the Atlanta Police Department for their contributions to the investigation.”
WSB-TV notes that when the judge asked Tobon if there were more people in Georgia attempting to join ISIS, she replied, “That’s a very hard answer, but it’s also an easy answer. ISIS has done such a tremendous job recruiting westerners, targeting westerners through social media that unfortunately we don’t know how many there are, but yes I am certain there are others.”