North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Aid International Terrorist Organization
WASHINGTON—Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin, U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand for the Middle District of North Carolina and Special Agent in Charge John Strong of the FBI in North Carolina announced today that Donald Ray Morgan pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and possession of firearm by a felon.
Morgan, 44, of Rowan County, North Carolina, pleaded guilty this morning before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder. Morgan was charged on Oct. 30, 2014, in a bill of information with attempted provision of material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The offense is punishable by a maximum of fifteen years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
“Today’s plea represents our continued commitment to confronting those who attempt to travel abroad to support terrorist organizations,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Preventing individuals from joining ISIL and holding accountable those who attempt to provide material support to the terrorist organization remains one of our highest priorities.”
“Today’s plea is a sad reminder that those who wish to aid foreign terrorist organizations can come from any community and from any background,” stated U.S. Attorney Rand. “We will continue to do everything we can to work effectively with our law enforcement partners and protect innocent people from terrorist activity, whether here in the United States or abroad.”
“Donald Ray Morgan proved himself to be a threat to national security,” said Special Agent in Charge Strong. “He traveled overseas with intentions to join the violent terrorist group, ISIL in Syria. American citizens who support terrorist organizations must be held accountable for their actions.”
According to court documents, Morgan knowingly attempted to provide support and resources beginning in January 2014 until on or about Aug. 2, 2014, including his own services, to al-Qa’ida in Iraq, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. On at least one occasion Morgan unsuccessfully attempted to travel from Lebanon to Syria to join ISIL/ISIS. Morgan also frequently used social media and an interview with an American journalist to express his support for ISIL/ISIS and violent terrorist activities.
Morgan was initially arrested on Aug. 2, 2014, at JFK International Airport in New York City on a federal indictment for possession of a firearm by a felon. The firearm offense occurred in January 2012. Possession of a firearm by a felon is punishable by a maximum of ten years’ imprisonment a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing is set for Feb. 18, 2015.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Charlotte Division, and Resident Agency Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The Greensboro JTTF consists of the following agencies: FBI, Greensboro Police Department, Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, High Point Police Department and the Winston-Salem Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Green with the assistance of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.