The use of social media to recruit members worldwide to ISIS, which is really SISIS, because it's the Self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has received widespread attention over the past few months.
Last Friday, the reality of ISIS propaganda hit home in North Carolina.
The FBI arrested Justin Nojan Sullivan, 19, of Morganton, North Carolina, on suspicion of three federal crimes related to an attempt to assassinate an undisclosed person for the purpose of posting a video to recruit members to the ISIS organization. Sullivan later said he wasn't serious about planning the attack, according to Michelle Boudin with WNCN.
Sullivan aroused federal suspicion when his father alerted local police after Sullivan broke down into an Islamic-inspired diatribe while in the process of burning Buddhist religious objects in his family's home. The FBI engaged an undercover agent to track Sullivan, who accompanied Sullivan to a gun show where Sullivan purchased a semi-automatic rifle in preparation for the war already here, according to the federal complaint. He then requested the FBI agent to send him a silencer using the mail service.
When the silencer arrived, The FBI arrested Sullivan when he received the package at his home. Sullivan faces serious federal charges. Conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign organization carries a maximum penalty of 20 years. In addition, the charge of transporting and receiving a silencer through interstate commerce with the intent to commit a felony carries a max penalty of 10 years. Lastly, the charge of receipt and possession of an unregistered silencer with an unidentified serial number carries a max penalty of 10 years as well.
This is one of many recent 'lone wolf' conspiracies the FBI rooted out in the past weeks. In each case, the plotters planned to utilize the connectedness of social media to post wretched videos in support of ISIS and in disdain for Western lifestyles and philosophies - perhaps its lost on people like Sullivan that such philosophy is precisely what drove the innovation to create these social media moguls.
In any event, the impact of social media on the law, law enforcement, and modern life continues to evolve, now even touching the North Carolina mountains.