0

Man sentenced for online threats against 'South Park' creators

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A Muslim convert from Brooklyn was sentenced Friday to nearly 12 years in prison for posting online threats against the creators of the "South Park" television show and others he deemed enemies of Islam.

The sentence -- largely in line with the term sought by prosecutors -- came after Jesse Curtis Morton, 33, offered an apology for his conduct, saying he "contributed to a clash of civilizations" by espousing a violent ideology.

"I justified atrocities by Muslims simply because they were carried out by the weak against the powerful," Morton said.

Morton founded the now-defunct Revolution Muslim website. He said he wanted the site to offer a forum for nuanced dialogue on relations between the Muslim world and the West and that he thought his website was protected by the First Amendment. However, he admitted that the website devolved into coarse calls for violent jihad, and that he crossed the line by posting the al-Qaida magazine Inspire on the site. The magazine explicitly called for the murder of a cartoonist from Seattle who promoted "Everybody Draw Muhammad day" and featured an article titled "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."

He and another defendant, Zachary Chesser, used the website to deliver thinly veiled threats against the creators of the "South Park" television show for perceived insults to the prophet Muhammad, by depicting him in a bear costume. Chesser earlier received a 25-year sentence, but he also tried to travel to Somalia to join the al-Shabab terrorist group.

Prosecutor Gordon Kromberg said Morton's apology may well be sincere, but argued that a stiff sentence was necessary because of the nature of the crime. He said Morton's site inspired a variety of would-be jihadis.