Man sentenced to 19 years in prison for attempting to provide support to ISIS

Posted at 7:26 AM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 07:26:22-05

A Missouri man was sentenced to 19 years in prison Wednesday for attempting to provide help to the Islamic State group attack the United States.

Robert Lorenzo Hester Jr., 28, pleaded guilty in September 2019 for attempting to provide material support to ISIS from October 2016 to February 2017, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

"Hester indicated that he had converted to Islam, expressed animus toward the United States, and posted photos of weapons and the ISIS flag, among other material, suggesting an adherence to radical Islamic ideology and a propensity for violence," the DOJ wrote.

After advocating for violence against the U.S. on social media, authorities said Hester was contacted by officials to see if he was interested in acting on his words. After undercover officers made contact, "he immediately showed that he wanted action in addition to words."

"Law enforcement engaged Hester to see if he was truly committed to an act of terrorism, and his responses left no doubt that he was," according to the DOJ.

Hester identified potential areas for terrorist attacks such as "federal places," government officials," "military bases," "oil production" and "Wall Street."

Undercover agents, according to authorities, said Hester agreed to help build a bomb and store weapons for an attack with the "purpose to maximize the number of casualties."

The DOJ said he was briefly enlisted in the U.S. Army, he received a general discharge after less than a year of service, and said his experience made him proficient with assault weapons and that he could gain access to military bases.

He has remained in custody since his arrest in February 2017.

Hester faces a lifetime of supervised release once he's out of prison.