Hasan Edmonds joined the Illinois National Guard, but he allegedly once wrote that he wished “only to serve in the army of Allah.”
He admitted he helped his cousin plot an attack on a National Guard base in Joliet where he trained, and then he tried to hop a flight from Chicago to Egypt to join Islamic State terrorists overseas.
But now, Edmonds appears to have written a letter to a federal judge 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 24-year-old Aurora man is set to be sentenced next month. His attorney, Paul Flynn, filed the letter Friday along with a memo seeking 15 years in prison for his client — half of the 30-year term Edmonds faces at the Sept. 20 hearing. Therefore, the letter can be taken either as a ploy for mercy, or a window into the mindset of a young American soldier corrupted by terrorist propaganda.
Dated April 21, the letter is unsigned and titled “Convalescence.” Flynn refused to say Monday whether the letter was written by his client. But referencing the letter in his memo, Flynn wrote that the disappointment Hasan Edmonds caused in his friends and family has “most certainly taught him a lesson he will never forget and never wants to experience again.”
Flynn claims Edmonds’ religious views were “infected” by his marijuana-addicted cousin, Jonas Edmonds, who also faces sentencing next month. Flynn wrote that Hasan Edmonds was raised Christian but received an early introduction to violence when his mother shot his father as he tried to force her into prostitution. Later, Flynn wrote that Hasan Edmonds’ father converted to Islam in prison, and Edmonds followed suit after witnessing its “positive effects.”
“Under the guidance of Jonas Edmonds, Hasan became exposed to a thoroughly distorted and radicalized version of Islam, a far cry from the peaceful and contemplative version the vast majority of Muslims practice,” Flynn wrote.
The letter points to “a mixture of confusion, guilt, anger, idealism, and naivete” but indicates Hasan Edmonds takes “full responsibility for my actions or lack thereof.” It also notes that “the path the government has taken to combat this juggernaut is one that leads to a dead end.”
“I have endeavored to make this letter as apolitical as possible, yet I must insert that the only way to counteract ‘radicalized Muslims’ is with Muslims, not against them,” it states. “Handing down stiff penalties and attempting to throw every so-called ‘jihadist’ under [sic] the jail will not eliminate the problems; in fact, it only powers [sic] fuel on the fire and serves to augment it.”
The feds kept close tabs on the cousins as they formed their terrorist plot. Jonas Edmonds dropped his cousin off at Midway Airport in March 2015 to catch his flight and then returned to his cousin’s home to collect the uniforms Hasan Edmonds once wore as a member of the Illinois National Guard.
Jonas Edmonds planned to wear his cousin’s uniform as he attacked the Guard base, hoping to kill as many as 150 soldiers. The feds say Hasan Edmonds offered deadly information about the base to his cousin and an undercover FBI employee. But Flynn said Hasan Edmonds’ most significant piece of advice “was the fact that the guardsmen would not be armed while conducting drills.” Flynn wrote there is “no indication that this information is ‘secret’ or ‘privileged’ in any way.”
Hasan Edmonds also allegedly told his cousin to “shoot the ‘stripes first.’ ” Flynn wrote that it all amounted to insight that could have come from “any novice with a copy of Mel Gibson’s ‘The Patriot,’ ” along with a Google image search or “reruns of ‘F Troop.’”
The letter notes that “this is a unique moment in time and a very pivotal moment in the storyline of not just America, but also of the human race.” The violence the world has seen may have “only been a prelude,” it states, and “now more than ever, we need calm and reasonable minds in positions of authority to make just and logical decisions, so as to set the tone for the rest of the nation to follow.”
“I hope to extend and [sic] olive branch, not only to those battling the inner turmoil of trying to find the right path, but also to those who would lend an ear,” it states. “This is me reaching and speaking out from the other side of the street, the other side of the gun, the other side of the vest. Together, we can begin to combat this global virus from all sides; if you would but give it a chance. Otherwise, I fear for our collective futures.”