A Florida man who had pledged support to ISIS was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in prison for uploading a video he believed would help the terrorist group make bombs, the federal authorities said on Thursday.
The man, Romeo Xavier Langhorne, 32, of St. Augustine, Fla., pleaded guilty in March 2021 to one count of providing material support to ISIS, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. The sentence, handed down in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, also included an additional 15 years of supervised release, the statement said.
Prosecutors said that, while in an ISIS chat room online in December 2018 and January 2019, Mr. Langhorne had expressed interest in creating a video that would improve on existing videos about making and using a deadly type of explosive.
In February 2019, Mr. Langhorne “began communicating” with an undercover F.B.I. agent posing as an ISIS representative, prosecutors said. He told the agent about his plans to make the video and sought help to create it, they said.
Mr. Langhorne told the agent that the video should include disclaimers that it was for educational purposes so that it wouldn’t be removed by internet providers, prosecutors said, but that his real purpose was to arm ISIS followers and others with knowledge about how to make the explosive.
The F.B.I. produced the video — which included the use of a chemically inactive formula that would not produce an explosion — and Mr. Langhorne uploaded it to a video-sharing website, prosecutors said. He was arrested in November 2019 in Roanoke, Va., where he lived at the time.
A lawyer for Mr. Langhorne, John Leombruno, declined to comment late Friday. In a sentencing memorandum filed on June 27, Mr. Leombruno painted his client as socially awkward and said he had various untreated mental health issues, including schizophrenia. Mr. Langhorne turned to the internet to seek affirmation and acceptance, his lawyer said.
Mr. Leombruno said that his client had been targeted by the government because of his “provocative comments and discussions on various social media platforms regarding the religion of Islam.”
“Acting in an undercover capacity, they initiated conversations with Mr. Langhorne and incited the production of a video that would inform individuals on how to make” the explosive in question, Mr. Leombruno wrote.
“To make certain that a prosecution of the defendant would occur, the government produced the actual video in question,” he continued, adding that the agent had “circled back to Mr. Langhorne when the interactions and conversations between them grew cold.”
The authorities said that Mr. Langhorne had come to the attention of law enforcement officials in 2014, when he posted statements and images in support of ISIS to his Facebook account, according to a criminal complaint filed in November 2019.
The complaint said that since then, Mr. Langhorne had posted many other statements on social media demonstrating “ideological support” for the group, including a speech by Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American citizen deemed a terrorist who was killed in a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen.
Sherri E. Onks, an F.B.I. agent in Jacksonville, said in the statement that the threat posed by Mr. Langhorne was “always very real” and that the authorities had disrupted his plan early, averting a threat.
“We remain as vigilant as ever in our efforts to protect the public from others who support terrorist organizations,” she said.