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American Who Tried To Join ISIS Gets 20 Years

American Who Tried To Join ISIS Gets 20 Years

An ex-National Guardsman who attempted to join the Islamic State in Syria last summer was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison Wednesday.

Donald Morgan, 44, flew to Beirut and then Istanbul, planning to cross into Islamic State territory in Syria. But Turkish authorities sent him back to Lebanon, curbing Morgan’s attempt to join the terror group.

While still in Beirut, Morgan told NBC News why he wanted to join the Islamic State: “Someone has to defend Islam,” said Morgan. “And somebody has to defend innocent Muslims.”

Morgan, running low on funds, returned to America despite knowing he would face criminal charges. He was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport last August and charged with trying to sell a firearm online, according to NBC. Morgan was already a convicted felon from an incident in 1997.

The North Carolina native eventually pled guilty to attempting to provide material support for the Islamic State and felony possession of a firearm, reports ABC News.

Morgan previously worked as a sheriff’s deputy and competed as a bodybuilder, according to NBC. He became involved in radical Islam two years ago, following Middle East conflicts online and tweeting radical messages under a fake Arabic name. Morgan, a Muslim convert, tweeted allegiance Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and “told ‘brothers’ in Iraq that he was coming to join them,” according to The Daily Mail.

Speaking to NBC, Morgan said the “push” to join the Islamic State “came from being mistreated by the people around me who didn’t share the views I had.”

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