York teen who police say wanted to join ISIS given parole

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A York teenager who claimed he wanted to join ISIS spent his his last night in juvenile detention.

This is the second time he's been eligible to get out, and the second time York police have tried to stop him.

On Wednesday morning, the teenager was granted parole.

Three months ago, Channel 9 attended the juvenile parole hearing for the 17-year-old, who police say planned to fly to Syria and join ISIS.

He was denied parole then, and it was clear board members had no idea about the accusations that he was involved in terrorism.

“I think they (board members) were better prepared this time. They asked him questions," said York Police Chief Andy Robinson. “I feel his is still a danger to our community.  He has not cooperated fully with our investigation.”

The teenager was arrested when police found a gun in his York home along with ISIS flags.

The FBI believes he was part of a plan to attack a military base in North Carolina and kill American soldiers.

They believe he'd made online contacts with a man in Raleigh and possibly others who were recruiting him to join ISIS.

However, because minors can't be charged with federal terrorism charges, all DJJ is holding him on is the gun possession charge.  Police said that's not enough to keep him incarcerated much longer.

Robinson remembers what he said the teen told one of his detectives in an interview following his arrest.

"When you tell a police officer that you're going to kill them if they get in your way, or anyone that gets in your way, you're going to kill 'em, that's pretty serious," Robinson said. “I want to protect my officers and the citizens of York."

Winthrop University Psychologist Dr. Joe Prus isn't so much concerned that the teen may have been mentally programmed or "brain washed" by terrorists, but that he has family support, and a new  purpose, when he is eventually released from DJJ.

"What's important is, what is there for him, other than this? What's going to be there to attract him?" Prus said.  "Does he have family, does he have the right mechanisms in place?"

The teen has told the parole board his family is now in Charleston, and he plans to live there and get a job when released. He denies any connection to terrorism.

The FBI said during Monday’s hearing, it is still investigating the case, but no other arrests have been made.

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