A Waterville man who pledged his allegiance to the radical Islamist terrorist group ISIS and conspired to provide terrorists with firearms, ammunition, and explosives to carry out attacks was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Xavier Pelkey, 20, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lance E. Walker to 15 years in federal prison for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, followed by 20 years of supervised release.
Pelkey pleaded guilty on April 7, 2023.
“The threat of a mass casualty shooting is all too real and fresh for the people of Maine today, as is the case for far too many communities across our nation,” said Darcie N. McElwee, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine in a Monday press release.
“Mr. Pelkey bought into hate and rhetoric he found online, and it cost him his future,” McElwee said. “I commend the quick work of the FBI to stop this conspiracy before it was able to cause any death, fear or destruction.”
Beginning in November 2021, Pelkey conspired with two minors — one in Chicago and one in Canada — to conduct a mass shooting at a Shia mosque in the Chicago area, according to court records.
Pelkey and his coconspirators were adherents to a radical form of Sunni Islam and supporters of ISIS.
As part of the conspiracy, Pelkey planned to contribute firearms, ammunition, and explosives to be used in the terrorist attack.
In February 2022, the FBI executed a search warrant at Pelkey’s residence in Waterville and found three handmade explosive devices.
The devices were found to contain staples, pins and thumb tacks, which an FBI bomb technician said in an affidavit against Pelkey were designed to increase the amount of shrapnel propelled by the homemade bombs.
In Pelkey’s bedroom, federal investigators discovered a hand-painted ISIS flag on the wall and written statements intended to be released prior to the planned attack claiming it in the name of ISIS.
“Xavier Pelkey self-radicalized, pledged loyalty to ISIS, and plotted with two others to commit a mass shooting at a mosque in Illinois. Thankfully, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was able to thwart these plans,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.
“This case highlights the very real threat posed by homegrown violent extremists who self-radicalize and are prone to attack with little to no warning,” Cohen said. “Rest assured, the FBI will use every investigative tool available to us to identify and disrupt terrorists like Mr. Pelkey in order to keep our communities safe.”