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Prosecutors: Man has ‘heartfelt desire’ to harm people

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Federal prosecutors continue to oppose the release of a Dearborn Heights man who they believe is an ISIS supporter, saying a psychiatrist’s recent finding that the man has no mental illness shows he is “a clear-minded individual who has a heartfelt desire to engage in vicious, brutal and heinous acts.”

Khalil Abu Rayyan has been in federal detention since Feb. 4 after FBI agents arrested him on two gun-related felonies. Rayyan, 21, has not been charged with terrorism-related crimes.

But prosecutors said there is “clear and convincing evidence” Rayyan is a danger to the community after he allegedly expressed support of ISIS, voiced a desire to engage in a martyrdom operation and stated a fascination with death and killing, particularly beheadings.

On Aug. 2, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh accepted a report from Rayyan’s public defender, Todd Shanker, that said Rayyan was competent to stand trial and assist his attorney with the case. The report, which contained the finding from a government expert, said Rayyan was competent and not a danger to the community.

Shanker has asked for bond after the government’s psychological expert, Dr. Chad Tilbrook, found Rayyan was competent, truthful and accurate during a lengthy examination and testing period and showed no symptoms of significant psychiatric disorder.

Shanker has said that Rayyan was trying to impress a woman who turned out to be an undercover federal agent when he spoke of martyrdom operations, and that the government seduced and manipulated him during the case by using two women to engage in conversations with him during FBI surveillance.

On Aug. 12, prosecutors filed their response opposing the bond request, saying if all of Rayyan’s “gruesome plans and desires were beyond his control, due to a mental illness, this court and the community could take some comfort in the fact that Abu-Rayyan’s dark thoughts, desires and dangerousness potentially could be mitigated or controlled through court-mandated medications and/or treatments.”

“However, due to Dr. Tillbrook’s findings, such comfort cannot be found with Abu-Rayyan’s condition,” the motion says. “It is inescapable that due to Dr. Tillbrook’s determination that since Abu-Rayyan is not suffering from a mental disease or defect, that all of Abu-Rayyan’s expressed thoughts, plans, and actions, over an extended period of time, had to have come about as a result of the longings of a clear minded individual who has a heartfelt desire to engage in vicious, brutal and heinous acts.”

Tillbrook’s finding that Rayyan is not suffering from a mental illness “undoubtedly exacerbates rather than mitigates” Rayyan’s dangerousness, and therefore release is not appropriate, prosecutors say in the motion.

The motion for bond is to go before Steeh on Aug. 30.

jchambers@detroitnews.com