(WFXR) — A man with ties to both Roanoke and Franklin County will spend the next two decades behind bars for trying to provide material support to a terrorist organization, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), by creating and distributing a bomb-making instructional video.
According to court documents, Romeo Xavier Langhorne pledged his allegiance to ISIS at some point in 2014, knowing that ISIS was a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Then, between 2018 and 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) says that Langhorne reaffirmed his support of ISIS on various social media accounts, posted ISIS-produced videos to his YouTube account, and participated in online ISIS chat rooms with like-minded individuals.
In fact, in December 2018 and January 2019, Langhorne used one of those chat rooms to express an interest in creating a video demonstrating how to make and use triacetone triperoxide (TATP), which is a deadly explosive, officials say.
In February 2019, Langhorne reportedly started communicating with an undercover FBI employee (UCE) pretending to work on behalf of ISIS, asking the UCE for help with his plans to create an instructional video on making TATP.
According to the DOJ, Langhorne told the UCE that, in order to make sure service providers didn’t remove the video from the internet, it should include disclaimers saying that it was meant for educational purposes.
However, Langhorne informed the UCE that his true purpose in making and distributing the video was to provide ISIS adherents and others with the knowledge of how to make TATP and use it for terrorism-related purposes in support of ISIS, the department says.
During the summer of 2019, officials say Langhorne sent multiple messages to the UCE for help creating a form of Islamic vocal music called a Nasheed.
The DOJ tells WFXR News that Langhorne stated he wanted the Nasheed to include a particular recording of an ISIS member yelling “Allahu Akbar” while breaking out of prison, as well as a clip of children saying “kill them all,” explaining that he wanted the Nasheed “to encourage justified retaliation” against America for its role in killing Muslims.
Officials say the FBI made a video per Langhorne’s instructions, but snuck in a chemical formula for TATP that would not produce an explosion. Then, in November 2019, the UCE gave versions of the TATP video to Langhorne, who uploaded it to a video-sharing website.
Federal agents reportedly began investigating Langhorne while he was residing in Florida, but he was actually a Virginia native who briefly lived with his mother in Rocky Mount and then moved to Roanoke, where he was arrested on Nov. 15, 2019.
According to the DOJ, Langhorne admitted in a post-arrest interview that he had “probably at some point” pledged allegiance to both ISIS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was the leader of ISIS from 2014 until his death on Oct. 26, 2019; that he communicated with the UCE; and that he uploaded the TATP video to the internet.
On May 13, 2021, officials say Langhorne pleaded guilty in the Middle District of Florida to one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS.
More than a year later, on Thursday, July 7, the DOJ announced that Langhorne was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release.
The FBI — including partner agencies participating in the Northeast Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force –investigated the case, with some assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations and Border Patrol, as well as the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. The case was then prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor for the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney D. Andrew Sigler of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.