California man who tried to join ISIS sentenced to 20 years: feds

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A California man who tried to join ISIS and wanted to encourage more English speakers to be part of the terror group was sentenced to 20 years behind bars, Brooklyn federal prosecutors announced. 

Bernard Augustine, 25, represented himself during his one-week trial in August and told jurors that if he was acquitted, he’d try once again to join the terror group, prosecutors said after his Wednesday sentencing.

“The trial evidence demonstrated that Augustine is a committed supporter of ISIS, that he glorified beheadings and other acts of terror, and that he intended to support the terrorist organization by encouraging more English speakers to join its ranks,” US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. 

“Today’s sentence ensures this dangerous defendant will not join ISIS as he tried to do in 2016, and testified at trial that he would do again if the jury acquitted him.” 

Around the time Augustine turned 18 while living in Keyes, a small rural community outside of Modesto, he made plans to travel in February 2016 to Tunisia from San Francisco with the goal of joining ISIS across the border in Libya. 

Bernard Augustine described videos of ISIS beheading Syrian captives as “good” and “really cool.”
Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images

In the months leading up to his trip, Augustine spent time watching ISIS propaganda videos that glorified the terror group’s violence and googling questions like “how to safely join ISIS,” prosecutors said. 

The wannabe terrorist also visited websites on the ISIS recruitment process, including one titled: “How does a Westerner join ISIS? Is there a recruitment or application process?” 

Augustine went through with his February 2016 trip to Tunisia, but before he could cross the border into Libya, he was detained for two years and then returned to the US in 2018. 

Bernard Augustine.
Bernard Augustine was convicted on charges for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
bernard.augustine.376/Facebook

During his trial, Augustine testified that he still wanted to join ISIS and described videos of the group beheading Syrian captives as “good” and “really cool.” He said he intended to help the group by providing English-language voiceovers for their propaganda videos.

Prosecutors asked him to confirm testimony he gave that he “would do it all again and would go back today” if given the chance and Augustine replied, “No, tomorrow, when they let me off.” 

Augustine was convicted on charges for attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. It’s unclear where he’ll serve his sentence.

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