Judge won't free FBI terror suspect during COVID-19
Detroit — A federal judge refused Thursday to release an Ypsilanti man arrested by the FBI’s counterterrorism team who argued he was at high risk of getting COVID-19.
U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts rejected the request from Yousef Ramadan, 31, after a hearing Wednesday that included evidence Ramadan lied about health issues that would leave him susceptible to contracting the virus.
"...the court finds that Ramadan has a history of lying and engaging in deceitful and fraudulent behavior which makes him entirely untrustworthy," Roberts wrote.
"The existence of the coronavirus pandemic — and its effect on Ramadan’s health and/or ability to meet with his attorney or prepare a defense — is not material to either the likelihood that Ramadan will appear or to the risk posed to the public if he is released," the judge added.
Ramadan is facing firearms charges in a case that drew wider attention after his arrest by FBI counterterrorism investigators.
He was removed from a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight in August 2017 at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after investigators searched his checked baggage and found body armor, ammunition pouches, rifle scopes, knives and other paramilitary equipment.
Ramadan, his wife and four children were flying on one-way tickets to Jordan.
Investigators searched the electronic storage devices and found videos of Ramadan shooting pistols and rifles, including a sniper rifle. They also found photos and videos of pipe bombs and propaganda videos and photos related to the Islamic State, including videos of fighters wearing black masks similar to those found in Ramadan’s luggage, according to court records.
During a video hearing Wednesday in which Ramadan sat in the Milan federal detention center while wearing a mask and dressed in a tan prison uniform, he said he did not support violence perpetrated by ISIS. He does support the idea of an Islamic state, or caliphate.
“I want to clear up one thing: I never said I support ISIS or its agenda or violence,” Ramadan told the judge.
In a bid to keep Ramadan jailed, prosecutors released a multimedia cache of videos and photos seized from him that show the unemployed security guard flashing weapons, firing guns and expressing support for ISIS. The evidence also includes a photo of what prosecutors called a homemade, improvised explosive device, or pipe bomb, built by Ramadan.
Ramadan is among a growing list of inmates seeking release from federal prisons nationwide while citing risk factors that leave them susceptible to the virus.
"This could turn detention into a death sentence," Ramadan's lawyer Richard Korn told the judge Wednesday.
Ramadan has been jailed in Milan for 2 1/2 years while awaiting trial on weapons charges that could send him to prison for more than 10 years.
He suffers from diabetes and asthma, said Korn, who proposed releasing Ramadan temporarily until the virus is under control. Ramadan would live with his sister and her family in Ypsilanti under house arrest and wear a GPS tether.
Prosecutors called Ramadan a dangerous liar and said there was no documentation of diabetes or asthma in seven years' worth of his medical reports.