- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 5, 2016

A South Carolina teenager whom investigators said wanted to join the Islamic State terrorist group and kill American soldiers was granted parole Wednesday after serving only one year of his five-year sentence.

York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant said he is “absolutely devastated” that the South Carolina juvenile parole board decided to release the unnamed 17-year-old as early as Friday, The State reported.

“This is a person who has threatened law enforcement, threatened military personnel,” Sheriff Bryant said.

Police and prosecutors said the teen, a Muslim-American whose family is from Syria, was involved in a plot that would have included robbing a gun store near Raleigh, North Carolina, then leaving for Syria to join the Islamic State. Investigators said they found an Islamic State flag and evidence that the teen had online contact with extremists, The State reported. 

The teen faced five years in prison after pleading guilty to gun charges in April 2015. He did not plead guilty to anything connected to terrorism, The State reported.

His age and the jurisdictional issues between South Carolina and North Carolina led to state prosecutors only charging him with possession of a weapon by a minor, The State reported. No federal charges have been sought.

“The juvenile justice system has failed us,” said York Police Chief Andy Robinson, adding that he “still has serious concerns” for public safety, The State reported.

“We have been told he is not going to live in this area,” Chief Robinson said. “I don’t believe that his ideals have changed. … We are going to ask that the FBI keep tabs on him, because we don’t have the manpower … or the capability.”

York Mayor Eddie Lee stood with law enforcement, saying, “We are all outraged.”

The teen said he has changed his ways and has a record of good behavior, but he has continued to refuse to tell police where he acquired the two guns that landed him in jail, The State reported.

Tom Elliott, the teen’s court-appointed lawyer, said no court official ever required the teen to cooperate with law enforcement about the guns.

“Just the word ISIS — I equate this to the Red Scare of the Cold War,” Mr. Elliott said, referring to Islamic State by an acronym, The State reported. “This young man has done all that has been required of him.”

The teen reportedly told the parole board that he plans to live in the Charleston area with his mother and two sisters. He will likely have GPS monitoring and other parole conditions to include no internet access, The State reported.

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