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Terror case target all smiles during court appearance

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — An American Muslim who allegedly bought illegal grenades from an undercover FBI counterterrorism agent let his smile do the talking during his arraignment Tuesday in federal court.

Sebastian Gregerson, 29, aka Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl, stood mute five days after the Detroit man was indicted on two explosives charges, which could send him to federal prison for up to 10 years.

During his brief arraignment, a handcuffed, orange jumpsuit-clad Gregerson smiled at his father and his court-appointed lawyer repeatedly and cracked a joke in between signing legal papers.

But when it came time to enter a plea, Gregerson said nothing and Executive U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen entered a not guilty plea on the man’s behalf.

It was the latest court appearance for a man whose arrest drew international headlines earlier this month after he bought five fragmentation grenades from an undercover agent and talked about an unspecified attack.

Gregerson is charged with buying a destructive device and receiving explosive materials after a 16-month FBI investigation.

The four-page indictment makes no mention of terrorism and does provide more insight into why Gregerson had several CDs in his possession marked “Anwar al-Awlaki,” the late, al-Qaida leader who radicalized underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

During the investigation, FBI agents installed in March a tracking device on Gregerson’s brown 1999 Dodge Neon and had monitored a cellphone since May, according to court records obtained by The Detroit News.

Gregerson, a Target employee who converted to Islam after high school, was arrested July 31. Gregerson also expressed interest in buying an illegal claymore mine, which contains C4 explosive and fires steel balls 110 yards.

The married father of twin 4-year-old boys amassed an arsenal of weapons during the past 16 months, prosecutors said.

Gregerson is a gun enthusiast, hunter and survivalist who has no criminal record, his lawyer said during a recent court hearing. The firearms were bought legally, his lawyer added.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub determined Gregerson was a danger to the community and ordered him jailed pending trial.

“What does one do with these items? What does one do with a grenade?” Majzoub said. “Why does anybody want to purchase a claymore mine, which is only used to cause death and destruction?”

Gregerson has not been charged with a terror-related crime, though federal prosecutors have filed a sealed document that “goes way beyond” allegations of purchasing a destructive device and receiving explosive materials, his lawyer previously said.

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