Instant messaging conversations allegedly written by Emerson Begolly reveal him as anti-Semitic, extreme, armed and dangerous. But they also reveal what he claimed was the genesis of his extremist views: an interaction with a Christian pastor who was a registered sex offender.
Begolly’s is a cautionary tale about the threat of homegrown terrorism: the radicalized 21-year-old college student reportedly obsessed over violence and martyrdom and said he was disgusted by a country where “homosexuality… abortion… assisted suicide, whores, and dru(g)s r all legal.”
But it’s also the strange story of a loner living on a farm in a small Pennsylvania town who had easy access to weapons and vented his frustrations with his family (a father who dressed him up in Nazi regalia and hit him as a child and an estranged mother with reported mental health issues of her own) in jihadist web forums.
In explaining his reaction when two FBI agents entered his vehicle in the parking lot of a Burger King earlier this month, his lawyer brought up his Asperger’s syndrome, characterized by difficulties with social interaction. But in the circles of online Islamic extremists — where conversations rapidly oscillated between beheadings, “Law and Order,” Muslim dating sites, family problems and hatred of Jews — Begolly seemingly fit right in.
Begolly confided in fellow jihadist enthusiast “Khalidabdalhakim” in an online conversation in November that he “really started to hate this society” after an encounter with a Christian minister at a young age.
“when i was like 13 or 14 some queer he tried to kidnap me,” Begolly wrote. “he came to me and put his hand on my le[g] and said…hey sweetie and i said who r u? he said he was a christian minister…he said the world would be a better place without women. he [g]ot closer and whisper in my ears… there would be just us men… but alhamdullah… i escaped.”
In Begolly’s retelling of the story, he contacted the police to report the incident. Police, he said, confirmed that the man was indeed a minister, but was also a registered sex offender who had raped a boy years ago. “i am still traumatized,” he wrote.
The 79 pages of instant messages allegedly written by Begolly were just part of the trove of new evidence federal prosecutors filed Thursday in the case, in which he faces charges of assaulting two FBI agents.
Many of Begolly’s alleged conversations centered around guns and violence, and, according to the Associated Press, prosecutors said in court that Begolly communicated online with Colleen LaRose, better known as “Jihad Jane,” as well as Zachary Chesser, who pleaded guilty to threatening the creators of “South Park.”
His ideology is an eccentric and disjointed mix of Islamic extremism, an admiration for Adolf Hitler, hatred for both Democrats and Republicans (the former for their support of “queers and abortions and anti firearms” and the latter because they “destory [sic] other countrys”), racism against African-Americans, admiration for the founding fathers and a militia mentality.
“when i wake up in the morning…the first thing i think about is killing…seriously… i think about killing all the time,” he wrote in one conversation. “as i type this…my AK is propped up next to me…mujahideen style.”
He was training, he wrote, to be killed as a martyr and believed he’d be rewarded in heaven, likely with 79 virgins.
When the cops found him, they’d find a “bulge in my pants…they know i see something when i am killed that make me realllllllllly happy.”
Fantasies about women played a big role in Begolly’s discussions. He recalled a dream he had where he was at a “really fancy dinner” with flowers, caviar and sterling silver ware, where he encountered “the most beautiful girl i ever see” who promised to marry him if he was martyred.
But in real life, he said he was ashamed to go on a date because of his poor manners.
In response to an online friend who asked him about his “planning for the american front,” he replied that “it is looooooooooong term” and stressed the importance of diligent planning.
Begolly was dedicated to what he called his ‘training.’ In a conversation with ‘Hassan,’ he described shooting a pumpkin with his AK47 from 1000 feet away, and boasted that he could ‘hit anything with a scope.’
One possible plan, he explained to Khalidabdalhakim, was to violently take over a school — like the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis — in return for the release of high-profile Muslim prisoners. On the top of the list of people Begolly wanted to free was Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is serving a sentence of 86 years for trying to kill American soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan, and Omar Abdel-Rahman, the alleged leader of an Egyptian terrorist organization, who is serving a life sentence for “seditious conspiracy.”
Concerned about whether Khalidabdalhakim would approve of his tactics, Begolly asked if he would object to using a child or unarmed noncombatant as a target. “plz dont think im a psycho,” he wrote.