SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - Hasan Edmonds, the second of two cousins who were sentenced Tuesday for plotting to attack a National Guard base in Joliet, was handed a 30-year prison term.
Hasan Edmonds’ cousin, Jonas Edmonds, had faced up to 23 years, but he pleaded guilty in December to charges of supporting terrorism and lying to the FBI. That plea agreement called for a 21-year sentence. U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee accepted that deal, telling Edmonds he displayed “utter hatred and disdain for this country, her citizens and those who live here.”
Despite his guilty plea, Jonas Edmonds admitted little when he spoke to the judge Tuesday. He claimed he was set up by the FBI and denied that he would have attacked the base. He admitted simply that he dropped his cousin off at Midway Airport so his cousin could go join Islamic State terrorists overseas.
“The person they’re trying to make me into, I’m not that person,” Jonas Edmonds told Lee.
But in a plea agreement he signed on Dec. 9, 2015, Jonas Edmonds admitted that he intended to wear his cousin’s National Guard uniform during a planned attack on the base.
Prosecutors say the cousins were caught on tape as they hatched their plot with an undercover FBI employee posing as an Islamic State recruiter. Jonas Edmonds claims the undercover fed encouraged the plot. Had it not been for that, Jonas Edmonds said he “would still be a normal person living a regular life” and “smoking weed.”
Hasan Edmonds was a guardsman assigned to the Joliet armory with fellow members of the 634th Brigade Support Battalion; authorities say that gave him inside knowledge he shared with his cousin in planning an attack on the base. Both cousins are from Aurora.
Hasan Edmonds was arrested at Midway Airport in 2015 as he prepared to board a flight to Cairo en route to Syria, where he planned to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, or ISIL. He left behind uniforms for his cousin to use to sneak onto the base.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas said he took “great issue” with Jonas Edmonds’ denials Tuesday.
“Thank God the FBI was there to stop him,” Jonas said, taking Hasan Edmonds’ National Guard uniform out of a big black duffle bag and waving it front of Lee.
In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said Hasan Edmond’s role in the “dastardly” plan also qualified him for 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to providing material support to terrorists.
“(Hasan Edmonds) betrayed both his word and his country by plotting to kill his fellow soldiers on behalf of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” federal prosecutors wrote. “Had this scheme succeeded, we would have been left to mourn yet more victims of ideological terrorism.”
Hasan Edmonds has maintained that Jonas Edmonds indoctrinated him into a radical version of Islam, a religion Hasan had converted to in 2008 under the guidance of his estranged father, who joined the faith while in prison. Hasan Edmonds has said he had no idea he was going to be scouting the National Guard base when he was picked up by his cousin and an undercover FBI agent in March 2015, a day before Hasan Edmonds expected to fly to Egypt.
Hasan Edmonds gave his cousin and the informant the layout of the base and advised Jonas Edmonds that he could enter disguised in one of Hasan Edmonds’ old uniforms and kill dozens of guardsmen if he struck when the unit was at drill. In recorded conversations, Hasan Edmonds also suggesting shooting higher-ranking officers first in order to sow more chaos, according to prosecutors.
“See the stripes, take the shot,” he said.