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Maine man sentenced to 15 years for conspiring a mass shooting at a Chicago mosque


A 20-year-old Maine man, accused of producing homemade explosive devices and making plans to attack a mosque, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

Xavier Pelkey of Waterville was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison followed by 20 years of supervised release. Pelkey entered an agreement with prosecutors in April in which he pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists while a second charge was dropped.

According to court records, beginning in November 2021, Pelkey was in communication with two juveniles about conducting a mass shooting at a Shia mosque in the Chicago area. Officials said Pelkey planned to contribute firearms, ammunition and explosives.

“This case highlights the very real threat posed by homegrown violent extremists who self-radicalize and are prone to attack with little to no warning. Rest assured, the FBI will use every investigative tool available to us to identify and disrupt terrorists like Mr. Pelkey in order to keep our communities safe,” said Darcie N. McElwee, U.S. Attorney, District of Maine.

Pelkey and his coconspirators were subscribers to a radical form of Sunni Islam and supporters of the foreign terrorist organization the Islamic State, known as ISIS, officials said.

In February 2022, the FBI executed a search warrant at Pelkey’s Waterville residence and discovered three handmade explosive devices, a hand-painted version of the flag used by ISIS on the wall and recovered written statements intended to be released just prior to the planned attack claiming the attack in the name of ISIS.

“The threat of a mass casualty shooting is all too real and fresh for the people of Maine today, as is the case for far too many communities across our nation,” said McElwee. “Mr. Pelkey bought into hate and rhetoric he found online, and it cost him his future. I commend the quick work of the FBI to stop this conspiracy before it was able to cause any death, fear or destruction.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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