Alleged ISIS supporter indicted on non-terror charges

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A grand jury in Detroit has indicted a Dearborn Heights man on firearms charges, but did not issue terrorism-related charges.

Khalil Abu-Rayyan, who is under FBI investigation for allegedly making threats of terror and martyrdom, was named in a two-count indictment Wednesday that charges him with making a false statement to acquire a firearm and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The charges are 10-year felonies.

The indictment came moments after Abu-Rayyan was ordered detained Tuesday while he awaits further hearings in the case.

In the indictment, the grand jury alleges that on Oct. 3, 2015, Abu-Rayyan made false statements on a federal firearms form when he said he was not an unlawful user of a controlled substance, when he actually was a marijuana user.

It also alleges that on Oct. 5, Abu-Rayyan took unlawful possession of a .22 caliber revolver. Prosecutors are asking that Abu-Rayyan forfeit the weapon and any ammunition as part of the case.

In their request for detention on Tuesday, federal prosecutors alleged Abu-Rayyan was a danger to the community after making several statements of wanting to shoot, kill and hurt people, including women and children, in Metro Detroit, and the police officer who arrested him.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Abu-Rayyan has a mental health issue, has stated that Satan speaks to him and tells him to commit violent acts, and has expressed support for ISIS as well as a willingness to commit violent acts of jihad, including a mass shooting at a church and beheadings.

Abu-Rayyan was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 4. Agents had been investigating him 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.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Waterstreet on Tuesday, Abu-Rayyan told an undercover agent he was hearing voices in his head that told him to “burn people alive.” He also told the agent that “shooting and death make me excited. I love to hear people begging and screaming. ... I wish I had my gun.”

“His dream was beheading someone,” Waterstreet said at Tuesday’s hearing. “This is not a person the court should take a risk (with).”

Todd Shanker of the Federal Defenders Office said during the hearing his client was trying to impress the female undercover FBI agent who told Abu-Rayyan that she was a 19-year-old Iraqi Sunni Muslim who supported ISIL and was willing to be a martyr.

Shanker said the undercover agent attempted to seduce and radicalize Abu-Rayyan with text messages.

“Everything (he said) that came after that was what Khalil thought she wanted to hear. When he said, ‘I don’t want to hurt anyone,’ it was met by silence or ‘you’re a fake,’ ” Shanker told the judge.

U.S. Executive Magistrate Judge Steven Whalen called Abu-Rayyan’s statements to police, his posting on Twitter about violent pro-ISIS videos and other communications with an undercover agent “disturbing” but said they were not against the law.