Man who plotted mass murder at Chicago synagogues, mosques as teen asks for 6 years in prison

Xavier Pelkey, nicknamed 'The Bomb Guy' became radicalized into extremist Islam while surfing internet in his bedroom

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones WLS logo
Friday, September 22, 2023
Man behind Chicago terrorist plot asks for 6 years in prison
Xavier Pelkey, who was behind a terrorist plot targeting Chicago synagogue and mosque locations, has asked for six years in prison.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Authorities said they interrupted a terror plot against metro Chicago mosques and synagogues when they arrested a Maine teenager more than 1.5 years ago.

In a rural Maine town, 1,200 miles from Chicago, Xavier Pelkey sat in his bedroom and devised the plot, according to investigators. Court documents say his teen co-conspirators in Chicago and Canada had nicknamed Pelkey "The Bomb Guy."

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Waterville, Maine, is a picturesque waterfront town where 18-year-old Pelkey became radicalized into extremist Islam while surfing the internet in his bedroom, according to federal law enforcement agents.

"This is a textbook case of what federal prosecutors fear; you can be radicalized in the quiet and solitude of your own bedroom," former federal prosecutor in Chicago and ABC7 Chief Legal Analyst Gil Soffer told the I-Team.

Pelkey had already admitted to making fireworks-based devices filled with sharp metal in a plot that he and two accomplices planned to execute in metro Chicago.

READ MORE | New details revealed in suspected terror plot targeting Chicago area mosques and synagogues

In the sentencing memo just filed by Pelkey's attorney, a prison sentence of six years is being requested, based on the young man's lack of criminal history and his "difficult and turbulent life."

Pelkey said he's the son of two drug addicts and one of nine children his father had by nine different women. His father, he said, kidnapped him at age five and forced him to eat out of the trash.

"The arguments he's making matter a little. The idea that he had a difficult childhood, an extraordinarily difficult childhood... that may carry some sway with the judge. But, of course, some things like that can be said in many cases for many defendants in many violent or would-be violent crimes," said Soffer. "So, I think it only gets them so far. It could result in a bit of reduction, but I don't know that it gets him as far as he's hoping to get."

Pelkey is facing a federal guideline sentence of 15 years in prison, according to paperwork just filed by U.S. prosecutors in Maine. The government wants him credited for acceptance of responsibility in the criminal case, but the probation department is against that. Prosecutors said they will wait until sentencing to make their actual prison recommendation. A sentencing date has not been set.

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