by: Catherine Bilkey Updated:
ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - A Rowan County man who authorities said pledged his allegiance to the terrorist group, Islamic State Group, went before a judge Thursday morning on a weapons charge. The arraignment for 44-year-old Don Morgan in federal court in Greensboro lasted no longer than two minutes. Morgan pleaded not guilty to felony possession of a firearm and had his next court date set for October.
Those who knew Morgan were in disbelief upon learning about his ties to the terror group.
“You never would have known that he was part of that -- never even an inkling of an idea that that was who he was,” Richard Knight said.
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Knight worked for Morgan in 2009 at a car dealership in Rowan County.
“He was my sales manager,” Knight said. “I was one of the sales associates there.”
He said he had no idea Morgan was committed to a radical ideology until he saw him on the news.
“We were both into body-building,” Knight said. “We used to talk about that a lot but nothing about Islamic State Group.”
But that’s the group an NBC News report said Morgan was trying to join. NBC reporters said Morgan met with a freelancer in Beirut and said he tried to enter Syria through Turkey. According to the report, Morgan said he supported Islamic State Group because they “put Islamic law as the priority and the establishment of an Islamic state as the goal.”
The court appearance Thursday in Greensboro is not linked to any terrorism charges and federal investigators have not formally connected Morgan to Islamic State Group, but he was denied bond because of his social media postings about radical Islam.
“I’m glad they caught him,” Knight said.
Federal investigators are accusing Morgan of having a gun even though he’s a felon. He spent two years behind bars for discharging a firearm into an occupied property.
Morgan's jury trial date is set for Oct. 14
Follow Eyewitness News reporter Blake Hanson on Twitter for updates from the hearing in Greensboro.
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