Nicholas Michael Teausant, a 22-year-old convert to Islam, had pleaded guilty in December to a charge of attempting to provide material support or resources to a terror group. He was arrested in March 2014 near the Canadian border, while en route to Syria to join the terror network.
His prison sentence will be followed by 25 years of supervised release.
“Terrorism has to become a zero-tolerance crime. There is no margin for error,” US District Judge John Mendez said in imposing the sentence in Sacramento, California.
“It is the court’s responsibility to fashion a sentence to reduce any risk you might pose in the future.”
According to authorities, Teausant caught the attention of the FBI in 2013 after he joined online forums, expressing a desire to “conduct violent jihad and to be part of America’s downfall.”
In his subsequent dealings with an FBI informant, he spoke of a plot to attack the Los Angeles subway but later backed away from those plans.
Teausant, who has an infant daughter, was “fixated on violence,” officials said, and wanted to go to Syria in the hope of “being on every news station in the world.”
Authorities said the case illustrates the vulnerability of young people who can fall prey to jihadist groups on the Internet.
“Violent extremists of all kinds — foreign and domestic — actively recruit disillusioned youth who can be radicalized and motivated to harm others,” said Monica Miller, in charge of the FBI bureau in Sacramento.
“Everyone should increase their awareness of this issue and consider how they can lead from where they stand by reaching out to individuals before their fascination evolves into recruitment by a violent extremist group.”
Teausant’s attorney had argued in court documents that he posed no real threat and “couldn’t provide material support to a pup tent.”