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Man who was "ready for jihad" sobs "I am an American" as he is jailed

The man had bought a one-way ticket to join ISIS.

Young Shiite volunteer militia members prepare to attack Islamic State fighters in Tikrit, north of Baghdad
Young Shiite volunteer militia members prepare to attack Islamic State fighters in Tikrit, north of Baghdad
Image: AP/Press Association Images

A GEORGIA MAN who wrote he was “ready for jihad” before buying a one-way ticket overseas to try joining the Islamic State group was sentenced to federal prison after he sobbed to the judge, “I am an American.”

Leon Nathan Davis III of Augusta was sentenced to 15 years, the maximum punishment allowed. A pale, bearded man with a Southern accent, the 38-year-old Davis pleaded guilty in May to seeking to help a known terrorist organisation.

He was arrested at the Atlanta airport last October trying to board a flight to Turkey. Davis later said his plan was to be smuggled into Syria so he could join the Islamic State group as a recruiter and an English teacher.

During his sentencing, Davis told the judge he had been “brainwashed” by writings and online propaganda of radical Muslims not long after he converted to Islam while imprisoned for cocaine trafficking a decade ago.

“I allowed myself to stray away from the truth of my religion, which is peace, love and humility,” Davis said.

“They brainwashed me into thinking that hatred and death were the way into heaven.”

Despite his apologies and acknowledgement of wrongdoing, prosecutors insisted Davis was far from harmless.

Assistant US Attorney Carlton Bourne showed the judge a photograph Davis posted online of himself holding a shotgun and surrounded by other weapons. Bourne said Davis added the caption: “ready for jihad.”

About a year before buying his plane ticket, Bourne said, Davis posted online: “One of my greatest desires is to kill Zionists and bring down Israel and the United States of America.”

Despite being a convicted criminal, Davis owned six rifles, four handguns and two shotguns, according to prosecutors who originally charged him with illegal gun possession. That charge was dropped as part of a plea deal.

Davis and his lawyer insisted he never meant harm, particularly to Americans.

“I love my country and I am an American,” Davis said through loud sobs. “This is the best country in the world and it deserves better.”

Read: Turkey is taking the fight to the Islamic State

Read: Irish Muslims are protesting against ISIS today

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Associated Press

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