Authorities have arrested a 21-year-old Michigan man whom they accuse of supporting Islamic State militants and plotting — as well as practicing — to attack a Detroit church.
Khalil Abu-Rayyan, of Dearborn Heights, appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit and is jailed pending a Monday hearing. He hasn’t been charged with terrorism-related crimes but has been investigated since May and faces marijuana and gun charges.
“I tried to shoot up a church one day,” Abu-Rayyan is quoted as saying in court records, according to theDetroit News. “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.”
“It is my dream to behead someone,” WDIV-TV reported that he told an undercover FBI agent.
The Detroit News said court records did not specify which church Abu-Rayyan planned to target, but he did tell an agent that it would be “easy.”
“A lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church,” the affidavit quotes him as saying. “Plus it would make the news. Everybody would’ve heard. Honestly I regret not doing it. If I can’t go do jihad at the Middle East, I would do my jihad over here.”
“Abu-Rayyan consistently expressed support for ISIL and repeatedly expressed his desire to commit a martyrdom operation,” the court document states. He also allegedly said he was in possession of an AK-47 with a 40-round magazine, like other extremist fighters.
U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Gina Balaya said Saturday that Abu-Rayyan will have a court-appointed attorney at the hearing but she doesn’t know who it is.
“If the allegations are true, then they’re extremely troublesome,” Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter, told the Detroit News.
Balaya says Abu-Rayyan had been under constant FBI surveillance recently due to growing concern about threats he made against the church, police officers and others in support of IS. Authorities say Abu-Rayyan had been communicating with an undercover agent.