Hoping to keep his son out of jail, the father of a Dearborn Heights man suspected of supporting ISIS and plotting a terror attack on a Detroit church is fighting to bring his son home, saying he can keep tabs on him pending the outcome of his criminal case.
The son, Khalil Abu-Rayyan, 21, has been locked up since Friday on federal weapons and marijuana charges — not terrorism — though the FBI has been investigating him for months and alleges he supports ISIS, has plotted martyrdom attacks and that shootings, deaths and beheadings excite him.
In an affidavit filed Monday in U.S. District Court, the suspect’s father sought custody of his son, saying he would supervise him under “whatever conditions, no matter how stringent.” The Livonia father — a U.S. citizen and engineer with two master’s degrees who owns a Detroit pizzeria — also disputed his son’s claims that the father had discovered evidence of a terror plot in his son’s car.
According to court documents, the son once told an undercover agent: “I tried to shoot up a church one day. I don’t know the name of it, but it’s close to my job. It’s one of the biggest ones in Detroit. Ya, I had it planned out. I bought a bunch of bullets. I practiced a lot with it. I practiced reloading and unloading. But my dad searched my car one day and he found everything. He found the gun and the bullets and a mask I was going to wear.”
The father, Rayyan Abo-Rayyan, says he discovered no such evidence.
“I state under oath and penalty of perjury that I have never found — in any of the cars/trucks that Khalil drives — any gun of any kind … any ammunition of any sort; or any mask of any sort,” Abo-Rayyan said in the affidavit. “I have, however, found and confiscated small amounts of marijuana from Khalil’s car.”
Khalil Abu-Rayyan has a detention hearing scheduled for Tuesday, when a judge will decide whether to release him on bond. He has not been charged with any terrorism crimes, but the FBI disclosed in court documents that it has been investigating him since May and found evidence that tied him to terror groups.
According to the criminal complaint unsealed on Friday, Khalil Abu-Rayyan had made numerous threats 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. He also expressed support for ISIS on two Twitter accounts.
The use of Twitter by ISIS supporters has been a concern for law enforcement officials. On Friday, Twitter announced it had “suspended over 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts, primarily related to ISIS.”
According to court records, marijuana is what ultimately led to the man’s arrest.
The FBI alleges that Abu-Rayyan twice lied about his drug use while filling out a federal ATF form when trying to purchase firearms, stating that he didn’t use marijuana. In October, Detroit police pulled him over for speeding and found marijuana on him and a pistol. He told police he didn’t have a concealed pistol license.
The next month, Wayne County prosecutors issued a warrant charging him with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a controlled substance, marijuana.
Within days, he was arrested on the warrant, telling police he had smoked marijuana for the past two years, and was typically smoking four to five blunts a week.
On Jan. 15, he pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana. Five days later, records show, he told an undercover FBI employee that “he wanted to kill the officer who arrested him in October.”
Tresa Baldas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Free Press staff writer Niraj Warikoo contributed to this report.
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