Donald Ray Morgan, 44, was arrested last August at New York’s JFK airport after returning from the Middle East. There, he had tried to travel from Lebanon through Turkey and on to Syria to join ISIS but was stopped at the Istanbul airport and sent back to Lebanon.
In Lebanon, Morgan told a freelance journalist working for NBC News he wanted to join ISIS because “they’ve proven time and time again to put Islamic law as the priority and the establishment of an Islamic state as the goal.”
“I would not classify myself as a radical, but by western definition I would be classified as a radical,” he said then. “I just consider myself to be a practicing Muslim.”
Morgan said he suspected the U.S. and other law enforcement were already hot on his heels, but he decided to go back to the U.S. anyway.
After he was arrested on a gun charge, Morgan eventually pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS and to felony possession of a firearm. Morgan was already a convicted felon from an unrelated 1997 incident in which he fired a weapon “into occupied property” in North Carolina, according to court documents.
“The sentence in this case demonstrates that we will continue to bring to justice those who engage in this conduct, and that protecting the nation against these threats remains one of our highest priorities,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said in a DOJ statement today.