No bond for Dearborn Heights man accused of IS support

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A competency exam was ordered and bond was denied for a 21-year-old Dearborn Heights man accused of being a supporter of Islamic State extremists.

U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh issued both rulings Monday for Khalil Abu-Rayyan after more than two hours of testimony from a licensed psychologist who evaluated the former pizzeria worker.

Rayyan has been in federal detention since Feb. 16 after federal prosecutors charged him with two gun-related felonies: making a false statement to acquire a firearm and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. A federal grand jury did not indict him on any terrorism charges.

In his report, clinical psychologist Dr. Lyle Danuloff deemed Rayyan a “very low” danger after evaluating him twice in March. His report said there is “no evidence of anti-social or violent proclivity either currently or in history.”

Federal prosecutors want Rayyan behind bars, saying his expressed support of ISIL, his continually voiced desire to engage in a martyrdom operation, his fascination with death and killing, particularly beheadings, make him a danger to the community.

They also say Rayyan’s ongoing mental health issues, his possession and attempted possession of firearms, his drug use, and his prior assaultive conduct are also reasons he should stay in federal detention.

Steeh said based on Danuloff’s comment, those of family members and his defense attorney, Todd Shanker, there are moments when Rayyan is “well oriented” and competency does not appear to be a concern.

But reports Rayyan heard voices in his head, had hallucinations of mass killings in school, his obsession with the conduct of jihadists and beheadings were all causes for concern, Steeh said.

“These are all issues that may from time to time render him incapable of intelligent responses during trial,” Steeh said. “By those circumstances, we’ll grant the government’s request for a competency hearing.”

When it came to the issue of bond, Steeh said the answer is no.

“I will entertain a renewal of bond request, but we aren’t there yet,” Steeh said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Waterstreet declined to comment after the hearing. His reasons for seeking a competency exam are in a sealed motion that is not open for public view.

Gina Bayala, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the government seeks competency hearings before a criminal case moves forward if issues of competency are raised and to make sure a defendant can assist in his or her case as it moves forward to either trial or plea considerations.

Balaya could not comment on whether a plea deal is being offered to Rayyan.

Rayyan had been under FBI surveillance since May for allegedly making violent threats about committing acts of terror and martyrdom in Metro Detroit.

In a motion opposing bond filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, prosecutors say Rayyan should not get bond because his actions and statements — including his support of ISIS, his gun possession, his drug use and mental health — took place before he began talking to an undercover government agent in December.

Rayyan’s attorney, Shanker, accused the government of “double-teaming” his client with two fictitious Islamic women who pretended to be potential wives for Rayyan while he was being watched by government agents.

Outside court, Rayyan Abo-Rayyan, Khalil’s father, said he was shocked the judge ordered a competency exam for his son after another judge denied the request at Khalil’s arraignment on Feb. 16.

“The government is trying to buy time to save themselves from embarrassment. It’s clear Khalil was entrapped by these two women. They played him,” the elder Rayyan said.