A Florida man who attempted to give material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, better known as ISIS, a group that has been recognised as a foreign terrorist organisation, was sentenced today to 20 years in federal prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release.
On May 13, 2021, Romeo Xavier Langhorne, 32, of St. Augustine, pled guilty in the Middle District of Florida to one count of attempting to give material support to ISIS. Court records state that Langhorne swore allegiance to ISIS sometime in 2014, knowing that ISIS was a foreign terrorist group that committed terrorist activities.
Between 2018 and 2019, Langhorne reiterated his support for ISIS on multiple social media platforms, uploaded movies made by ISIS to his YouTube channel, and engaged in online chats with supporters of the group. In one of those chat rooms in December 2018 and January 2019, Langhorne expressed interest in developing a video that would be an improvement on previous ones that showed how to make and utilise the lethal explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP).
Langhorne started corresponding with an FBI undercover agent (UCE) in February 2019 who was masquerading as an ISIS staffer. Langhorne requested assistance from the UCE in producing the instructional film and informed the UCE of his plans to produce and distribute a video on how to make TATP.
Langhorne advised the UCE that the film should have disclaimers stating that it was meant for instructional reasons in order to prevent it from being taken down from the internet by service providers. But Langhorne revealed to the UCE that his real motivation behind producing and disseminating the video was to teach ISIS supporters and others how to create TATP so they might use it for terrorism-related objectives in favour of ISIS.
During the summer of 2019, Langhorne sent multiple messages to the UCE for assistance with creating a Nasheed, which is a form of Islamic vocal music. Langhorne stated he wanted the Nasheed to include a particular recording of an ISIS member yelling “Allahu Akbar” while breaking out of prison, as well as a clip of children saying, “kill them all.” Langhorne explained that he wanted the Nasheed “to encourage justified retaliation” against the United States for its role in killing Muslims.
According to Langhorne’s instructions, the FBI created a movie, but Langhorne was unaware that it contained a chemical formula for TATP that would not explode. Versions of the TATP film were sent to Langhorne by the UCE in November 2019, and Langhorne then shared the video by uploading it to a website for video sharing.
On November 15, 2019, Langhorne was apprehended at his home in Roanoke, Virginia.
In a post-arrest interview, Langhorne said that he had “probably at some point” sworn allegiance to both ISIS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the organization’s leader from 2014 until his passing on October 26, 2019. Langhorne acknowledged that he exchanged messages with the UCE and put the TATP video online.
U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida and Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division The statement was made by Roger B. Handberg, Counterterrorism Division Acting Assistant Director Kevin Vorndran, and Special Agent in Charge Sherri E. Onks of the FBI’s Jacksonville Field Office.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations, Border Patrol, and the Sheriff’s Office of St. Johns County provided investigative support to the FBI, along with other partner agencies involved in the Northeast Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney D. Andrew Sigler of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor of the Middle District of Florida.
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