Illinois man turned wannabe terrorist tells judge he’s just a big 'teddy bear'
Edward Schimenti sentenced to more than a dozen years in prison for ISIS activity
An Illinois man has been sentenced to more than a dozen years in prison for allegedly conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.
According to the Department of Justice, 39-year-old Edward Schimenti of Zion was convicted by a federal jury in 2019 on one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS and one count of making false statements to the FBI. His sentence is for 13.5 years.
Joseph D. Jones, 39, of Zion was also convicted of a conspiracy charge and sentenced last month to 12 years in federal prison in connection to the plot.
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The DOJ began investigating Schimenti after he advocated for violent extremism in support of the terrorist group through posts on social media.
According to Chicago Sun Times, one of Schimenti's posts read "Islamic State will control your country, matter of fact, Islam will dominate the world!!" In addition, he displayed the Islamic State flag on his Google+ account.
Prosecutors said Jones and Schimenti met with two undercover government informants, who used the names Omar and Bilal, on Dec. 29, 2015. When asked by Bilal about whether they had pledged allegiance to ISIS, Schimenti became suspicious and abruptly left the meeting.
In November 2016, the FBI sent a confidential informant to get a job with Schimenti’s employer. After being hired, the informant began socializing with Schimenti after work, and said he had a brother in the Islamic State who he hoped to join in Syria. Schimenti then told the informant about Bilal, documents show.
Schimenti also helped the informant get into fighting shape at a gym, prosecutors said, where Schimenti allegedly said he hoped to be the one to "cut the neck" of non-believers. In addition, the informant reportedly told Schimenti that ISIS fighters had been tracked by compromised cellphones and that fighters could use cellphones for bombs.
In 2017, Schimenti allegedly supplied the cell phones to the government informant, believing the phones would be used to detonate explosive devices in ISIS attacks overseas. On April 7, 2017, Schimenti drove the informant to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago for a flight to Syria. Schimenti allegedly told them to "drench that land with they, they blood" before seeing them off.
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Schimenti told U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood during a sentencing hearing on Friday that he was "just a big teddy bear" and not a terrorist.
"I have a heart. I have feelings. I have emotions," he added.
Wood said Schimenti was "more culpable" than Jones, noting he had a "better idea of what he was getting himself into." However, she also described the crime as "on the less serious end of a scale that starts at a very serious level."
Before being sentenced, Schimenti apologized and told the judge: "In the end, your honor, really I guess I’m just asking for another chance at life."
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In a memo obtained by the Chicago Sun Times, Schimenti's lawyers reportedly argued that the feds "infiltrated every part" of Schimenti's life and created a "false reality" for Schimenti at the gym, online and at home.
"Mr. Schimenti only acted when the government placed the opportunity before him and then consistently manipulated him over an extended period until he took the bait," defense attorneys Joshua Adams and Stephen Hall reportedly wrote.
In addition, they said that, despite Schimenti’s online commentary, no member of any terrorist group ever reached out or "ever took Ed seriously."
The Department of Justice did not immediately return FOX News' request for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report