Published June 12, 2013
SPOKANE, Wash. – A man who almost killed himself in an explosion three years ago was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for making a bomb and attempting to help terrorists.
Joseph J. Brice, 22, of Clarkston was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in September to manufacturing an explosive device and attempting to provide material assistance to terrorists, The Spokesman-Review reported (http://is.gd/bjyQTt ).
Brice spoke at the hearing, saying he regretted his actions that resulted from a deep depression after he suffered life-threatening injuries in the bomb blast.
"I'm deeply remorseful and just want to go home," Brice said.
U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko said he could not take Brice at his word that the threats of violence were a joke.
"I can't sweep all that under the rug," Suko said. "We are judged by what we say and do."
Brice will get credit for two years already spent behind bars.
After the explosion, the FBI found that Brice had posted YouTube videos honoring Islamic jihadists and paying tribute to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Brice's lawyer, Matthew Campbell, said the statements were just jokes and the result of poor decisions, not an actual intent to harm anyone.
Campbell said Brice was "goaded" into providing an undercover FBI agent with bomb details. He also said Brice was no more an expert on bomb-making than anyone who read online encyclopedias and high school chemistry books.
However, federal prosecutors said Brice was injured as he tried to copy McVeigh's complex bomb that killed 168 people in 1995.
As the investigation unfolded, authorities said they found Brice had created and posted the YouTube videos under the name "StrengthofAllah" and launched websites where he shared bomb-making recipes.
An undercover FBI agent sent Brice a message through a website asking if he wanted to help Islamic fundamentalists create a bomb to attack Americans. The prosecutors said Brice agreed and provided bomb-making information.
In online postings, Brice celebrated the Tucson, Ariz., shooting in 2011 that killed six people and injured 13 others, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He also identified personally with McVeigh.
"Tim's characteristics are nearly the same as myself, physically and politically," one of his postings said.
Judge Suko said the government established that Brice's online activities started years before his accident and were indicative of dangerous behavior.
FBI Senior Agent Frank Harrill said no one in Eastern Washington had ever before been convicted of trying to supply technical expertise to terrorists.
Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com