Justin Nojan Sullivan, 21, of Morganton, was arrested in June 2015 in connection with a plot to kill 1,000 people with an assault rifle that he meant to buy at a gun show, according to the US Department of Justice. He discussed these plans on social media with an undercover FBI employee, which is what tipped federal officials off to Sullivan’s intentions. He pleaded guilty to attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries on November 29, 2016.
Sullivan has also been indicted for the December 2014 murder of then 74-year-old John Bailey Clark, who was Sullivan’s neighbor on Rose Carswell Road.
Sullivan was 19 when he was arrested in June 2015, and charged with crimes including attempting to provide material support to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also referred to as ISIS.
Sullivan was a teenager in the small foothills town of Morganton when he became radicalized in 2014 after watching terrorist beheadings and other Islamic State propaganda online, U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose said Tuesday.
“Justin Sullivan had elaborate plans to kill hundreds of innocent people to show his support for the terrorist organization, ISIL”, said FBI Special Agent in Charge John Strong, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Court records indicate that Sullivan openly expressed support for ISIS in his home and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents. Sullivan suggested that the agent obtain weapons and told the agent that he was planning to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at an upcoming gun show in Hickory, North Carolina.
According to court records, Sullivan had researched how to manufacture firearm silencers and asked the UCE to build functional silencers that they could use to carry out the planned attacks.
The Department of Justice says that Sullivan was communicating with an undercover agent and told the agent that he planned “minor assassinations to get ready for the major attack”. Sullivan admitted that he was inspired to slaughter innocent people by infamous and now-dead ISIS-recruiter Junaid Hussain, the DOJ statement said.
In the summer of 2015, his parents opened one of his packages, which contained a gun silencer. The court determined, according to the Justice Department, that Sullivan’s plan was “more sinister because he planned to use stealth-including a mask to hide his identity and a silencer to kill as many as possible, with the hope to escape and kill again”.
When Sullivan’s parents found and confronted Sullivan about a silencer he had purchased for the attack, he offered to pay his Federal Bureau of Investigation contact to kill them. The Court called the plan “cold and calculating”.