A 19-year-old man from Michigan entered a guilty plea on Monday for threatening to use Instagram to carry out a mass massacre that would specifically target Jews. 

The man has been identified as Seann Pietila. According to the indictment, Pietila discussed carrying out a mass murder and live-streaming the incident on Instagram with another user in June. Pietila specifically stated that she wished to encourage people to “take arms against the Jewish-controlled state” in at least one of the communications that the prosecutors emphasized.

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Who is Seann Pietila?

Seann Pietila is 19 years old. He entered a guilty plea on a single federal offense of distributing threatening communications in interstate commerce. In addition to a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, he could spend up to five years in prison. 

The Justice Department states that Pietila will be punished in March and will not be allowed to own any firearms. 

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Seann Pietila entered a guilty plea at the same time that the American Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities have reported an increase in threats and intolerance. FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a warning last month, stating that the US is witnessing “historic levels” of antisemitism.

Pietila’s online exchange was reported to the FBI on or around June 13, and shortly after that, they arrested Pietila and carried out a search warrant at his residence. During the search, firearms, tactical vests, scopes, a Nazi flag, black skull masks, and other items were found. On the notes app of Pietila’s iPhone, investigators discovered the name of an East Lansing, Michigan, synagogue, a date, and a list of weapons, including bombs, Molotov cocktails, and guns, according to the criminal complaint.

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According to the affidavit, Seann Pietila eventually admitted to investigators that he had no intention of carrying out the mass executions he had mentioned. According to the complaint, he also stated that he was aware that one of the Instagram accounts he was texting was a 16-year-old boy from New Zealand.