Feds: Dearborn Heights man danger to community

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Federal prosecutors oppose bond for a Dearborn Heights man suspected of supporting the Islamic State extremists, saying there is “clear and convincing evidence” he is a danger to the community, according to their 36-page motion filed Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit said Khalil Abu-Rayyan should stay in federal detention based on “his expressed support of a designated foreign terrorist organization, his continually voiced desire to engage in a martyrdom operation, his fascination with death and killing, particularly beheadings, his on-going mental health issues, his possession and attempted possession of firearms, his drug use, and his prior assaultive conduct.”

Rayyan, 21, is charged with making a false statement to acquire a firearm and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The charges are 10-year felonies.

No terrorism charges have been filed against him, but Rayyan had been under FBI surveillance 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 his criminal complaint.

Prosecutors said Rayyan should not get bond because his actions and statements — including his support of ISIL, his gun possession, his drug use and mental health — took place before he began talking to an undercover FBI agent in December.

Rayyan’s attorney, Todd Shanker, is attempting to get him released on bond with condition as he awaits trial on the charges.

Shanker was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

Rayyan, who lived at home with his father and stepmother at the time of his arrest, was ordered detained Feb. 16 by a federal magistrate judge.

In the motion filed on Tuesday, prosecutors said Rayyan’s step-mother told the FBI that while attending public school in Dearborn Heights, Rayyan told his teacher he dreamed he had a gun and shot everyone in class.

The teacher reported the matter and Rayyan was removed from school, prosecutors said. According to his step-mother, Rayyan was required to obtain counseling from a “specialist” before he could return to school.

Federal investigators said they determined in 2013 the police were called to the Rayyan home in response to a fight between Rayyan and his brother.

According to the police report, Rayyan acknowledged he was the aggressor and was arrested for domestic violence. The matter was dismissed because his brother refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

On Dec. 15, 2015, Rayyan allegedly engaged in text messages with his brother where he stated he was involved in an altercation with a group of “Shia” at his gym.

His brother told him to ignore it, the motion said, and Rayyan later said “it got kind of physical” and “I had my knife just in case things went south.”

In his motion for bond, Shanker said a clinical psychologist evaluated Rayyan and deemed him a “very low” danger. Because a grand jury returned an indictment against Rayyan with no terrorism charges, bond should be reconsidered.

Shanker also said the FBI used “extraordinary” tactics to manipulate Rayyan during its surveillance from May 2015 to February 2016, including using the undercover agent who posed on Twitter as a 19-year-old Sunni Muslim woman who was depressed, suicidal and prepared to engage in a martyrdom operation.

Prosecutors said those same arguments were made and rejected at Rayyan’s original detention hearing.

In another motion, prosecutors said one of the goals of their investigation into Rayyan was to determine his intentions, given that he had sought out “gruesome” ISIL video, posted them on his Twitter accounts and then made positive comments about the videos online.

In July 2015, Rayyan engaged in a Twitter conversation with another apparent ISIL supporter, the motions said.

After the supporter tweeted “Wallaahi ([I promise] by God) Ive never smiled so much in my life watching a video than I have when I just watched the new ‘Kill them where ever you find them,’ ” the defendant replied, “same here akhi (brother).”

Rayyan went on to comment to another individual regarding this same video that “this Gona be my fifth time watching it” and expressed to yet another individual that “the video was probably the best one yet … Not a dull moment.”

The FBI became aware Rayyan bought a firearm on Oct. 3, took possession of it Oct. 5 and was arrested by Detroit police on Oct. 7 and charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of marijuana.

“Concern about the defendant’s intentions was escalated when the FBI learned that, not long after he had been arrested and released by the Detroit Police Department, the defendant attempted to purchase a second firearm, tried to get authorization to carry a concealed firearm and went to a shooting range to practice shooting AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles,” the motion said.