A South Florida man was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison for posting bomb-making instructions on websites frequented by extremist groups such as the Islamic State.
U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore imposed the maximum possible sentence on Tayyab Tahir Ismail, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan. The FBI says Ismail, 34, posted bomb instructions last year on five occasions and that they were accurate.
“It’s the government’s position that no offense could be more serious,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gilbert at a hearing. “Instead of radicalizing people in person, he did the same thing online.”
Ismail’s lawyers had sought a lenient sentence, arguing he suffered through a terrible childhood and has a mental disorder. Moore, however, noted that many people who have a difficult upbringing go on to impressive achievements.
“What we’re really here for today is to hold him accountable for his adult behavior,” the judge said.
Ismail, who lived in Pembroke Pines, expressed remorse and renounced violence at Thursday’s hearing.
“I say this from my heart and soul: I don’t believe violence is the way to solve problems,” Ismail told the judge. “I am deeply ashamed.”
Ismail was also an associate of James Medina , who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for plotting to blow up a South Florida synagogue and Jewish school. He was snared in an FBI sting with a fake bomb. The FBI said Ismail knew about that plot and did nothing, but he was not charged then.
Aside from the bomb-making instructions, authorities say Ismail also posted numerous messages of support for the Islamic State and advocated killing people.
“You are surrounded by methods to hit them. Kill the devil’s soldiers without hesitation,” one message said. “Make them bleed even in their own homes.”
Ismail moved to the U.S. when he was less than a year old. His father drove a taxi and later ran an ice cream shop and two gas stations.
Defense attorney David Nunez said Ismail never fit into any social circle, was bullied at school to the point of dropping out and turned to computers and the Internet for companionship. He said Ismail, despite what he wrote online, was never committed to any extremist groups.
Nunez had sought a sentence of just over seven years.
“For certain, there are hardcore terrorists who deserve to be locked up and throw away the key. Mr. Ismail is no hardcore terrorist,” Nunez said.
That was rejected by Gilbert, the prosecutor.
“This defendant knew exactly what he was doing. He fit in with the worst of the worst because he wanted (Islamic State) to succeed,” she said.
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