ISIS Plot Foiled On U.S. Soil By Teenager

The first ISIS-related terrorism case in Maine has been resolved with the guilty plea of a teenager from Waterville who was charged with conspiring to offer material support to terrorists. 

Xavier Pelkey, 19, appeared before U.S. District Judge Lance Walker in Bangor Federal Court on Friday morning to submit his plea. If convicted, he faces a maximum term of 15 years in prison. 

The prosecution painted Pelkey as an independent domestic planner who was motivated by ISIS but not under its command or in contact with its abroad operations. In February 2022, FBI officials searched Pelkey’s house and discovered three improvised explosive devices in a rucksack in addition to an ISIS flag that had been painted by Pelkey and hung in his bedroom.

To enhance the quantity of shrapnel launched by an explosion, FBI Agent Nate Jacobs noted that each device had many pyrotechnics that had been packed together with metal staples, pins, and other fasteners. Jacobs testified in favor of the charge against Pelkey, citing the malicious pyrotechnics. 

Pelkey had another criminal accusation dropped against him by the prosecutors: possession of unregistered harmful devices, which carried a maximum 10-year term. 

MacLean and Craig Wolff, an assistant U.S. attorney, signed the plea bargain. 

The state’s case against Pelkey centers on allegations that he was an adherent of ISIS, the Sunni Muslim terrorist organization operating in Iraq and Syria. Pelkey looked out gun stores in Maine on the internet in order to purchase a semiautomatic rifle, shotgun, and pistol.

FBI Agent Garrett Drew said in an affidavit supporting Pelkey’s pretrial detention that he and another adolescent planned to take a bus to Chicago where Pelkey would buy rifles and ammo. According to Drew, Pelkey didn’t have a contingency plan in case they were shot by police, hence the whole strategy was a “martyrdom operation.”

On November 10, 2002, a superseding indictment added the material support charge to the original indictment from April 15, 2022, for possession of unregistered destructive devices. Since his arrest 14 months ago, he has been largely detained at the Somerset County Prison.

When asked what the prosecution would suggest or what the federal sentence guidelines imply, Wolff refused to comment on either. MacLean said that he would advocate for a reduced term for Pelkey because of the boy’s age.