U.S. News

Ohio man sentenced for plotting to attack Capitol

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - An Ohio man was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge on Monday for plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol with guns and bombs in sympathy with Islamic State militants.

Christopher Cornell, 22, of Green Township, Ohio, near Cincinnati was arrested in January 2015 and accused of planning to travel to Washington to attack the U.S. Capitol during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Cornell remained defiant despite his guilty plea and long sentence.

“Allah is in control, not this judge,” Cornell said as he left the court on Monday, adding, “Don’t trust the court system, it’s rigged.”

Cornell pleaded guilty in August to charges of attempted murder of government officials, possession of a firearm to commit a crime and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

He is one of a string of people arrested in the United States over the past two years over accusations they planned to join or help Islamic State, which controls swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Cornell’s plan was “horrific,” said U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith. Prosecutors said he possessed two semi-automatic rifles and about 600 rounds of ammunition.

In addition to the 30 years, Beckwith sentenced Cornell to a lifetime of supervision.

Cornell researched the construction of pipe bombs, and purchased two semi-automatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition as part of his plan to carry out the plot, prosecutors said.

After his arrest, he posted statements online that included a call for others to join him in violent jihad against the United States on behalf of Islamic State, prosecutors said.

On Monday, Cornell’s family members, including his mother, father, brother and aunt, became emotional as they asked the judge to give Cornell a “second chance.”

The sentence should serve as a deterrent for anyone looking to follow Cornell’s lead, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said.

“I hope the message goes out to think twice before you go down this path,” he told reporters outside of the court.

Martin Pinales, Cornell’s attorney, said outside the courthouse he would not appeal the sentence.

Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and James Dalgleish