YORK, South Carolina (AP) — A South Carolina teenager who authorities say was attracted to the Islamic State group and who was plotting to kill U.S. troops in North Carolina has been sentenced to five years in juvenile prison on a state gun charge, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Officials told media outlets the 16-year-old is an American citizen whose family is from Syria. They didn't release his name.
The prosecutor said the boy was plotting with a Muslim militant from North Carolina to rob a gun store near Raleigh, North Carolina, with plans of killing soldiers as revenge for U.S. military action in the Middle East.
Solicitor Kevin Brackett said that because of the teen's age and the lack of a terrorism law in South Carolina, the only charge prosecutors could pursue was possession of a weapon by a minor.
The teen was "wholeheartedly sincere in his beliefs, and we are very concerned for the safety of the community and the country," Brackett said. "He had a plan to randomly shoot American soldiers."
Brackett said a videotaped police interview with the teen, which wasn't shown in court, was disturbing. "How he behaved on that video, which is what I told the court, is what caused me so much concern," Brackett said.
FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office officials in Columbia, South Carolina — as well as Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina — declined comment on the case.
Defense lawyer B.J. Barrowclough said the teen was drawn in by a man with radical beliefs but had wavered, and had told the other man he didn't want to hurt anyone in the U.S. Instead, he wanted to fight the regime in Syria that had hurt and killed members of his own family, according to Barrowclough.
Barrowclough asked the judge for probation, saying the teen had no criminal record and was in school and working to care for his mother.
The teen's mother and uncle also spoke to the court, saying the boy was a good youngster who believed in the laws of the U.S. and didn't mean any harm.