A 19-year-old man has been taken into custody after telling an undercover FBI employee that he wanted to support the Islamic State group by killing as many as 1,000 people in the United States, authorities said Monday.
Justin Nojan Sullivan from the town of Morganton, North Carolina, faces several charges, including attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State group. Sullivan "was planning assassinations and violent attacks in the United States," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P Carlin.
According to the criminal complaint, Sullivan planned to buy a semi-automatic rifle on June 20 at a gun show so that he could kill as many as 1,000 people and demonstrate his support of the Islamic State group.
Federal authorities began investigating Sullivan after his father told emergency dispatchers in April that his son was destroying religious items in their home. "I don't know if it is ISIS or what, but he is destroying Buddhas and figurines and stuff," the complaint quotes Sullivan's father as telling an emergency hotline.
An undercover FBI employee who first made contact with Sullivan in early June said Sullivan described himself as a Muslim convert. Two days later, he said he wanted to kill 500 people but the next day said he wanted to kill 1,000 by using biological weapons, bullets coated with cyanide and a gas bomb.
It appears that Sullivan may have given conflicting statements to his interrogators. He first told the FBI that he didn't mean to go through with his plans, but then he said he planned the attacks between June 21 and June 23 because his parents would be out of town.
Sullivan was arrested Friday at his home without incident.
The Islamic State group is a militant organization that broke with the al Qaeda network and took control of large parts of Iraq and Syria, where it declared a caliphate, a traditional form of Islamic rule. It is made up of mostly of Sunni militants from Iraq and Syria, while also drawing jihadi fighters from across the Muslim world and Europe.