A 21-year-old from Morganton who was plotting to kill hundreds at a North Carolina social event will instead spend the rest of his life in prison.
Justin Nojan Sullivan pleaded guilty to terrorism charges on Nov. 29, 2016 for plotting to murder hundreds of North Carolinians in a massacre similar to the one that ravaged an Orlando nightclub last year.
Authorities said in a press release, Sullivan’s plan was “cold and calculating” and “more sinister than the Orlando shooting, 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.”
He was planning the mass attack in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), under the direction of now deceased Syria-based terrorist Junaid Hussain.
On July 6, Sullivan was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.
U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina announced the sentence in a press release.
“Sullivan was actively planning the mass killing of innocent people with an attack designed to inflict maximum casualties and maximum pain in the name of ISIS, a sworn enemy of our nation,” she said. “Sullivan’s allegiance to ISIS did not stop there. He also planned to film and send a video of his deadly attack to now-deceased Junaid Hussain, a prominent ISIS member based in Syria, and further expressed his wish to create a new branch of the so-called Islamic State in the United States.”
In September 2014, Sullivan began collecting Internet videos depicting violent ISIS attacks, such as beheadings. According to court records, he openly expressed support for ISIS in his home and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents.
In June 7, 2015, he began conspiring with Junaid Hussain, an ISIS member responsible for online recruitment and providing directions and inspiration for terrorist plots in Western countries. Under Hussain’s direction, Sullivan planned mass shooting attacks in North Carolina and Virginia. His plot was foiled after Sullivan began discussing his plans on social media with an undercover FBI employee (UCE), who Sullivan attempted to recruit. Sullivan told the UCE he was planning to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at an upcoming gun show in Hickory, and that he would carry out his attack at a concert, bar or club, where he believed as many as 1,000 people would be killed.