By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - An Ohio man has pleaded guilty to charges he plotted to kill a U.S. military employee and then attack a local police station in the state, in connection with his support for the Islamic State, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.

Munir Abdulkader, 21, pleaded guilty to counts of attempted murder of a government employee, attempted material support of a foreign terrorist organization, and illegal firearm possession.

Abdulkader, who lives in the Cincinnati suburb of West Chester, was arrested on May 21, 2015, and pleaded guilty on March 24, 2016. His case was made public on Thursday.

A federal public defender representing Abdulkader did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to a statement of facts he signed, Abdulkader became a U.S. citizen in 2006, and was a college student in Cincinnati in 2014 and 2015.

The defendant said he began expressing support for the Islamic State on Twitter in July 2014, indicated a desire to attain "shahada," or martyrdom, and by the spring of 2015 was planning to train in Syria as an Islamic State fighter.

According to the statement of facts, Abdulkader in May 2015 began communicating with an unnamed informant and Islamic State members overseas about his plan to abduct a military employee at home, film the employee's execution, and then use firearms and Molotov cocktails to attack the police station.

Abdulkader was arrested on the same day he took possession of an AK-47 assault rifle costing $350, and shortly after he had conducted surveillance of the police station and learned at a shooting range how to operate firearms, the statement said.

The defendant faces up to 20 years in prison on the attempted murder charge, up to 15 years for attempting to aid the Islamic State, and up to five years on the firearm charge, the Justice Department said. His sentencing date is Oct. 4.

The case is U.S. v. Abdulkader, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, No. 16-cr-00019.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)