Desiring to “commit a martyrdom operation,” and wanting to “behead someone,” a Muslim was arrested in Detroit for plotting to carry out an ISIS-inspired attack on a church.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
Authorities have arrested a 21-year-old Michigan man whom they accuse of supporting the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group and plotting to attack a Detroit church.
Khalil Abu-Rayyan of Dearborn Heights appeared Thursday in US District Court in Detroit and remains jailed pending a Monday hearing. He hasn’t been charged in the past with terrorism-related crimes, but has been investigated since May and faces marijuana and gun charges.
The US attorney’s office spokeswoman Gina Balaya said Saturday that Abu-Rayyan will have a court-appointed attorney at the hearing.
She said Abu-Rayyan has been under constant FBI surveillance in recent months due to growing concern about his apparent support for ISIS and threats he had made against the church, police officers and others.
There’s no indication he was acting with others, authorities said.
In a criminal complaint, the FBI says Abu-Rayyan expressed support for ISIS “propaganda” postings on social media, including videos of its members beheading captives. It also says he made several incriminating statements to an undercover agent, including that he supported ISIS, had a “desire to commit a martyrdom operation” and wanted to behead someone.
According to the complaint, Abu-Rayyan told the undercover officer he planned to “shoot up” a Detroit church but that his father found the gun, bullets and mask he was going to use. He also said he bought a “cowboy gun,” but he decided not to go through with the attack because it only held six bullets and he’d have to keep reloading it.
Abu-Rayyan pleaded guilty last month to a pot possession charge, and he faces a February 16 trial on a concealed weapon charge. Both stem from an October arrest.
The Detroit suburbs of Dearborn Heights and Dearborn have large, longstanding Arab and Muslim populations. US Attorney Barbara McQuade told The Associated Press that incidents like these are “an aberration” in the communities.
“We’ve not had any ISIS cases arising out of (the area),” she said. “A lot of people vocally and visibly oppose ISIS. … No one should make any conclusions about Dearborn or Dearborn Heights from this.”
ISIS’ mounting influence and terror activity in the US is keeping security and law enforcement authorities on edge as they work to prevent the next Islamic terror attack on US soil.
The US Justice Department has charged a record number of at least 60 suspects in 2015 with terrorism-related crimes.
The FBI has opened investigations in all 50 states, and the cases cross ethnic and geographic lines, officials said. In November, FBI Director James Comey said the FBI is pursuing 900 active ISIS terror-related investigations.