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A co-conspirator in a plot that threatened South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker with death over an episode that featured the Muslim prophet Muhammed dressed as a bear was sentenced Friday to 138 months in prison.
Authorities said that Jesse Curtis Morton, who went by the name Younus Abdullah Muhammed, created Revolution Muslim in 2007 and used the organization’s website to encourage violence against enemies of Islam, including Parker and Stone.
According to the FBI and other law-enforcement officials, Morton helped Zachary Chesser and others terrorize Parker and Stone by urging followers to “pay them a visit” and also supplying details about where they live. The website postings included lines like, “Islam’s position is that those that insult the Prophet may be killed.”
In February 2011, Chesser, a Fairfax County, Va., man who wrote multiple Internet posts over a four-month period threatening Parker and Stone and praising the 2004 murder Dutch of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Morton, 33, of New York, along with Chesser and others also encouraged violence against newspaper cartoonists who drew pictures of Muhammed — and even those who had planned on doing so. They also pledged their allegiance to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban and encouraged attacks on Jewish organizations.
Morton fled to Morocco four days after Chesser’s arrest in July 2010 but was arrested there 10 months later and brought back to the United States. He pleaded guilty in February.
“I justified atrocities by Muslims simply because they were carried out by the weak against the powerful,” Morton said in a Virginia court before sentencing.
“Jesse Morton sought to inspire Muslims to engage in terrorism by providing doctrinal justification for violence against civilians in the name of Islam,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said Friday. “The string of recent cases with ties to Mr. Morton demonstrates that he was very successful. His crimes not only put people’s lives forever in danger, but they also chilled free expression out of fear of retaliation by violent terrorists.”
Prior to sentencing, several friends and family members wrote Judge Liam O’Grady asking for leniency. Some invoked the media.
Morton’s brother, Garret, for example, wrote that Rush Limbaugh, Ted Nugent and Nancy Grace “express opinions that develop harsh consequences (even murder and suicide); however they do not face criminal charges.” He also insinuated that his brother’s violent musings on the Internet were no worse than the lyrics to Cop Killer or the language used in the video game Grand Theft Auto.
And Morton’s mother, Kay, wrote: “Everyday millions of people speak out on the Internet and write blogs. Do they go to prison for it? I pray you look closely at the Statement of Facts; the ‘whole’ interview with CNN, not the 2 minute cut and paste Anderson Cooper chose to show on TV. Jesse is nothing like the Internet portrays him. Jesse is a brilliant mind who was only trying to educate others about foreign policy and Muslim beliefs.”
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