Syracuse, New York, native pleaded guilty Tuesday to a terrorism charge, admitting that he moved here and discussed carrying out violent acts in the United States before settling on a plot to join a jihadist movement overseas.
Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair, 25, had been scheduled to go on trial later this year. On the day of his pretrial conference Tuesday, the defendant switched his plea to guilty.
Federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend a 15-year prison sentence for the charge of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. They will ask U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose to dismiss a passport fraud charge.
The plea comes four months after co-defendant Randy “Rasheed” Wilson, pleaded guilty in the case. Both men now will be sentenced in December.
Although the defendants ultimately agreed to fight for Islam in Africa, court records indicate that Abukhdair initially favored terrorism at home. At one point, during a conversation about AQI – al-Qaida in Iraq – Abuhkdair suggested he and Wilson would be AQUSA – al-Qaida in the United States.
“I don’t know if you guys understand the greatness of a jihad operation in the United States, man,” he told Wilson and an undercover FBI agent in February of last year, according to a partial transcript of the conversation.
Abukhdair told the agent that an Egyptian sheik was wrong to suggest that he give up jihad for a more peaceful form of proselytizing known as “dawah.” The goal of Islam, the defendant said, was to take over the world, and the means of achieving that goal was the sword of jihad.