Former Student Under Investigation After Arrest
Former Penn State World Campus student Emerson Begolly was arrested by the FBI last week when two agents confronted him in a parking lot near New Bethlehem, PA. The meeting was arranged in advance with help by his mother.
FBI agents Brad Orsini and Edward Daer had Mr. Begolly’s mother, Joan Kowalski, pick him up on a pretense that his grandmother was sick. While stopped at a Burger King, agents identified themselves and opened the doors.
The agents, who did not have a warrant for his arrest at the time, sought to question him about web postings he had made in support of Islamic extremists. When Begolly reached for his jacket, the agents struggled to restrain him. They found a fully loaded 9-mm handgun with the safety off and a bullet the chamber in his jacket.
Begolly was charged with assault against FBI agents, using a deadly or dangerous weapon to injure the agents and possessing a firearm while committing the assault.
At the hearing, the FBI said that Begolly had posted jihadist messages as Asadullah Alshishani. The bureau also presented evidence that Begolly’s father dressed him as a Nazi officer as a child; that he owns an AK-47; that his brother and mother said he wants to die a martyr and take others with him; that his mother said he had been diagnosed at 6 with Aspberger’s Syndrome; and this his mother recently tried to have him admitted to a psychiatric facility.
Begolly is still listed on the Penn State directory as an undergraduate student pursuing a Letters, Arts, and Sciences degree through World Campus, but university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said that he was suspended last Wednesday and will not be allowed on a Penn State campus as long as charges are pending. Before he was a World Campus student, he had taken classes at New Kensington, a Commonwealth Campus.
The FBI agents interest in Begolly was raised because of incendiary and pro-jihadist postings he had made on the Internet over the past few years using the name Asadullah Alshishani. Jawa Report has the most informed look at what and where he was posting. One of the songs/poems he wrote in support of Osama bin Laden is embedded below, with some lyrics transcribed by Jawa Report. Make sure to note the use of auto-tune.
At his first hearing last Thursday, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Ervin Swearingen said that Begolly could be released to a holding house on $25,000 bail; but Assistant U.S. Attorney asked that the release be postponed while the prosecution appeals the decision. Begolly is being held in jail until a hearing before a senior U.S. District Court Judge about whether he should remain in jail for the charges resulting from the incident with the FBI agents.
Emerson Begolly (sophomore-religion) said he is Chechen, a people currently under Russian rule. He attended because he said he sympathized with Palestine’s situation.
He also apparently has a Yahoo profile where he lists his interests as:
Catholicism, Rosaries & Beads, Cats, Sheep & Goats, Music, Walking, the Woods, History, World Cultures & Languages, Vegetarianism, Antiques & Collectibles, eBay, Bees, Calligraphy, Writing, Computers, Liturature, and Crocheting
The Yahoo profile also lists his Penn State webspace under the ‘anything else’ category. Back in 2006, the Begolly account posted a message to a group called Paternosters (which has nothing to do with Joe Paterno and everything to do with paternosters) promoting his Penn State website that features “an extensive collection of Catholic Rosaries, Muslim Tesbihs, Greek Kombolois, and various other beads. Features filigree rosaries, Faturan amber, antique worry and prayer beads, and more.”
Indeed, Begolly seems to be some sort of bead aficionado. His Penn State web space has a page with his commentary on the history and usage of different beads.
He also seems to have a MySpace page complete with pictures of himself dressed in a Nazi uniform and information about the names he uses on various pro-terrorist forums online.
Also of note is that someone has registered EmersonBegolly.com (the first result for his name on Google) and placed nothing but a picture of a guy humping a goat. The domain’s registration was obfuscated through a third-party service though, so there’s no way to tell who has it in for our budding jihadi.
This is an odd story, and one that surely will be developing over the next week. Have any of you crossed paths with Begolly over the last few years?
Select lyrics (Amir of the Ansaar refers to Osama bin Laden):
Amir of the Ansaar
How beautiful you are!
Your sword gleams in the sun
Like a shining star
Your sword gleams in the sun
Like a shining star
You fight AmeriKKKa
And terrorize the Jews
You slay the murtadeen
And blow up the Hindus