Invoking the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shootings, federal prosecutors are seeking a maximum prison sentence for an Aurora man who pleaded guilty in a plot to slaughter soldiers at a Joliet National Guard base.
Hasan Edmonds was a guardsman assigned to the Joliet armory with fellow members of the 634th Brigade Support Battalion, which authorities say gave him inside knowledge that he shared with his cousin, Jonas Edmonds, and an undercover FBI staffer posing as an Islamic State recruiter in planning an attack on unsuspecting soldiers at the base.
Prosecutors say the plan, which would have killed more than 100 members of Edmonds unit, qualifies Edmonds for a spot on a list of American traitors that includes convicted FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen and Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood in 2009.
Edmonds was arrested at Midway Airport in 2015 as he prepared to board a flight to Cairo en route to Syria, where he planned to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, or ISIL. He left behind uniforms for his cousin to use to sneak onto the base.
In a sentencing memorandum filed last week, prosecutors said Hasan Edmond’s role in the “dastardly” plan also qualified him for 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to providing material support to terrorists. Edmonds and his cousin are set for sentencing Sept. 20.
“By plotting to wage war on behalf of ISIL, defendant defiled his duty of loyalty,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barry Jonas and John Kness wrote. “As a result — and when compared to the life sentences imposed for completed attacks identical to what defendant hoped to achieve here — a sentence of 30 years is both reasonable and proportional.”
Hasan Edmonds, 23, has maintained that his cousin and co-defendant, 30-year-old Jonas Edmonds, indoctrinated him into a radical version of Islam, a religion Hasan had converted to in 2008 under the guidance of his estranged father, who joined the faith while in prison. Hasan Edmonds has said he had no idea he was going to be scouting the National Guard base when he was picked up by his cousin and an undercover FBI agent in March 2015, a day before Hasan Edmonds expected to fly to Egypt.
Hasan Edmonds gave his cousin and the informant the layout of the base and advised Jonas Edmonds that he could enter disguised in one of Hasan Edmonds’ old uniforms and kill dozens of guardsmen if the struck when the unit was at drill. In recorded conversations, Hasan Edmonds also suggesting shooting higher-ranking officers first in order to sow more chaos, according to prosecutors, who also say Jonas Edmonds picked up uniforms that his cousin left behind after dropping Hasan Edmonds at Midway.
“Before I leave [for Syria], I’ll . . . I give him [Jonas Edmonds] the, uh, breakdown of the ranks,” Hasan Edmonds said. “It’s going to be on their hats and on their, on their chest. . . . See the stripes, take the shot.”
Jonas Edmonds also has pleaded guilty to charges of supporting terrorism and lying to the FBI but has said the recorded conversations with his cousin and the informant were nothing more than idle boasts made while he was smoking large amounts of marijuana and that he never intended to carry out a massacre. He faces a maximum sentence of 23 years.