Hasan Edmonds joined the Illinois National Guard a decade after terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
Then, in the spring of 2015, he committed the ultimate betrayal of his fellow soldiers. Lurking outside the Joliet base where he had trained, Hasan Edmonds told his cousin and an undercover FBI employee how to kill as many as 150 soldiers on behalf of Islamic terrorists.
“The first person to take the reins is going to be the first sergeant,” Hasan Edmonds, 24, allegedly said while being secretly recorded. “And then if he steps off, it’s gonna be the company commander. Out of the way. That’s the, the head. Kill the head, body follows.”
Finally, he told them: “See the stripes, take the shot.”
Hasan Edmonds and his cousin, Jonas, 30, would be arrested the next day. Now, both men are set to be sentenced Tuesday by a federal judge for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Jonas Edmonds planned to disguise himself in his cousin’s uniform while attacking the base.
“(Hasan Edmonds) betrayed both his word and his country by plotting to kill his fellow soldiers on behalf of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas wrote in a court filing last month. “Had this scheme succeeded, we would have been left to mourn yet more victims of ideological terrorism.”
The sentencing hearing follows a rattling weekend for Americans wary of domestic terrorism. On Saturday, a pipe bomb blew up before a charity race in New Jersey, a shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bomb injured 29 people in New York City, and a man stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall while referring to Allah.
The feds have asked for 21 years in prison for Jonas Edmonds and as many as 30 years for Hasan Edmonds who was arrested March 25, 2015 as he tried to catch a flight to Egypt. The men pleaded guilty in December.
“Because (Hasan Edmonds’) actions were a contemptible betrayal of both the nation’s trust and his fellow soldiers, he should be forced to pay a heavy price,” Jonas wrote.
The prosecutor has compared Hasan Edmonds to Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood in 2009, and FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen, writing that “betraying one’s country while in its service is a particularly grave crime.”
Meanwhile, Hasan Edmonds allegedly once told an undercover federal employee in February 2015 that, “we would love to do something like the brother in Paris did,” an apparent reference to the terrorist attack in Paris against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
But more recently, Hasan Edmonds appears to have written a letter to U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee renouncing the terror group and calling himself “an American born and bred, who just happens to be Muslim.”
“I harmed no one because I am not some crazed terrorist with a personal agenda of mayhem and destruction,” the letter states. “But rather, I am a young man who was temporally [sic] led astray by the hateful rhetoric of a group who I [sic] reality could care less about the religion they claim to represent or the people they swear they wish to protect.”
The feds kept close tabs on the cousins as they formed their terrorist plot. Jonas Edmonds dropped his cousin off at Midway Airport to catch his flight and then returned to his cousin’s home to collect his cousin’s uniforms.
Jonas Edmonds was arrested around the same time as his cousin and initially lied to investigators about the purpose of his cousin’s trip. When authorities searched his townhouse, they found an Illinois National Guard drill schedule, as well as an “army jacket,” “army shorts” and “military brown boots,” records show.
Despite pleading guilty, Jonas Edmonds claimed last winter that his recorded comments about attacking the base were “bold talk” and “bravado” fueled by marijuana and a need to prove he was “a sincere Muslim.”