Dad wants custody of man accused of ISIS support
The father of a Dearborn Heights man suspected of supporting Islamic State extremists and planning to “shoot up” a Detroit church is seeking custody of his son while the 21-year-old faces a federal firearms charge.
Khalil Abu-Rayyan is charged with illegally possessing a firearm while using a controlled substance. Prosecutors have not filed terrorism-related crimes against him.
On Monday, Rayyan Abo-Rayyan, identified as the father of Khalil Abu-Rayyan, submitted an affidavit and proposed agreement to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, asking for custody of his son and agreeing to supervise him according to the court’s orders while he awaits arraignment on a 10-year felony charge.
FBI has been investigating Abu-Rayyan since May “regarding increasingly violent threats he has made to others about committing acts of terror and martyrdom — including brutal acts against police officers, churchgoers and others — on behalf of the foreign terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and Levant,” according to a criminal complaint.
In the affidavit, Abo-Rayyan says he has never found guns, ammunition or masks in his son’s car or truck.
“I have, however, found and confiscated small amounts of marijuana from Khalil’s car,” the affidavit says.
Abo-Rayyan says he will assure the appearance of his son at scheduled court hearings and will notify pretrial services if his son violated any condition of his release or if his son tries to flee or disappears.
Abu-Rayyan is in federal custody. He is expected to appear in federal court on Tuesday for a detention hearing.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said she could not comment on the request because the case is a pending matter.
According to a complaint unsealed Feb. 4 in U.S. District Court, Abu-Rayyan reportedly told an undercover FBI employee about a plot to target a Detroit church.
“I tried to shoot up a church one day,” Abu-Rayyan is quoted as saying in court records. “I don’t know the name of it, but it’s close to my job. It’s one of the biggest ones in Detroit. Ya, I had it planned out. I bought a bunch of bullets. I practiced a lot with it. I practiced reloading and unloading. But my dad searched my car one day, and he found everything. He found the gun and the bullets and a mask I was going to wear.”
Investigators didn’t name the church Abu-Rayyan allegedly eyed, but claimed the property covers about two blocks less than a half mile from his work and can accommodate up to 6,000 members. He allegedly purchased a gun and told an undercover FBI employee that attacking a church would be “easy.”
“A lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church,” the affidavit quotes him as saying. “Plus it would make the news. Everybody would’ve heard. Honestly I regret not doing it. (If I) can’t go do jihad at the Middle East, I would do my jihad over here.”
The court document claims Abu-Rayyan used Twitter for “retweeting, liking and commenting” on Islamic State propaganda since late 2014.
According to the affidavit, the posts included “video of a Jordanian fighter pilot being burned alive, men being thrown from a high rise building to execute them, the beheading of Christians in Egypt and news of ISIL victories.”
In December, he communicated with an undercover FBI employee through social media; during conversations over several weeks, “Abu-Rayyan consistently expressed support for ISIL and repeatedly expressed his desire to commit a martyrdom operation,” the document read. He also said he had an AK-47 with a 40-round magazine like other extremist fighters.
The affidavit says Abu-Rayyan told the undercover FBI employee a firearm he bought in October wasn’t suitable “because it only held six shots and he would have to keep reloading.”
The next month, he “tweeted photos of himself firing an AK-47 type and AR-15 type rifles at a local firing range”; one was captioned “Sahwat hunting,” which authorities said “is a term for Iraqis who oppose ISIL.”
Federal officials said Abu-Rayyan bought a .22 caliber revolver in October from a Dearborn Heights sporting goods store but lacked a concealed pistol license.