Ypsilanti man arrested by FBI counterterrorism team convicted in gun case

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Detroit — An Ypsilanti man indicted on gun charges who the FBI accused of being an Islamic State supporter was convicted Monday in the first federal, criminal jury verdict in Metro Detroit since the start of the pandemic.

Yousef Ramadan, 32, was convicted after less than an hour's deliberation, four years after members of the FBI’s counterterrorism team blocked him from flying to the Middle East and arrested him after discovering several weapons in a storage unit.

The case raised national security questions after investigators searched his luggage at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and found pepper spray, knives, a stun gun, black masks, two-way radios, a gas mask, a tactical vest and photos of a homemade pipe bomb.

Prosecutors portrayed him as a violent, dangerous crook obsessed with weapons and the Islamic State but the case never led to terrorism charges. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts threatened to declare a mistrial if the government referred to terrorism during the trial.

"This is a gun case," Roberts wrote in a court filing, "nothing more."

The jury convicted Ramadan of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number, possessing a stolen firearm and an unregistered silencer – each punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison. Ramadan spent approximately 3 ½ years in jail while awaiting trial before being released on bond in January.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 20.

The case against Ramadan, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the Palestinian territories, dates to August 2017. That's when the father-of-four was removed from a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight at Detroit Metropolitan Airport before flying to Amman, Jordan, with the ultimate destination of Israel. Before the plane could depart, investigators searched his checked baggage and found the items.

Ramadan told investigators the family was relocating to Bethlehem territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, according to the FBI.

During the interview, Ramadan said he owned two rifles and a Glock handgun and placed the firearms in a storage unit before arriving at the airport, court records show.

Ramadan is not a dangerous man and the government mischaracterized his view of ISIS, his lawyer, Andrew Densemo, wrote in a court filing.

"Any suggestion of support or agreement with the religious or political views expressed by ISIS immediately and permanently brands the 'sympathizer' as dangerous," Densemo wrote. "Mr. Ramadan made the mistake of expressing his opinion, that he agreed with some of the religious tenets of ISIS.

"What continues to fall on deaf ears is his statement, that he did not support the violence the group engages in."

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews