Federal prosecutors on Monday linked ISIS supporter Sebastian Gregerson, also known as Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl, 30, of Dearborn, Michigan to a Virginia man, Yusuf Wehelie, who threatened to commit a domestic terror attack in support of the Islamic State.
The link was revealed in a 47-page federal court filing that more fully describes ties between Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl and like-minded associates, including a radical imam in Maryland who paid for Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl’s weapons purchases. The filing also alleges that Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl received more money from the imam than previously disclosed.
Reminding U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow that courts nationwide have sought to protect the public from unrepentant Islamic State supporters who are likely to wage jihad upon release from prison with longer prison sentences, prosecutors explained that Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl sees himself as a soldier for ISIS.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathleen Corken wrote in the filing, “Like any soldier, he is unlikely to relinquish this view of his identity by virtue of being in prison. In fact, he considers himself a prisoner of war. Once released, he is likely to resume his activities for ‘jihad in the cause of Allah.’”
Having admitted that he got a fragmentation grenade last summer from an undercover FBI employee, Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl faced a 10-year felony because the grenade was an unregistered destructive device, but he struck a plea deal with prosecutors, which could cut his sentence in half. However, prosecutors believe he poses a real danger to innocent citizens.
Pointing to the link between Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl and Wehelie, Corken wrote, “(Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl’s) release anytime in the near future would present a clear danger to the public and the threat that he will follow through on his stated desire to engage in a violent act.”
Wehelie, 26, was convicted of a gun crime, but prosecutors allege that he talked about massacring military recruits in Springfield, Virginia. The judge more than tripled the government’s recommended sentence when it sentenced him to 10 years in prison last month.
In December, prosecutors said Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl was backed by a group of like-minded supporters in Maryland, including a radical imam.
The Detroit News previously revealed that the FBI was investigating Maryland imam Suleiman Bengharsa, who was identified in search warrant affidavits accidentally unsealed in federal court in September. The news outlet was able to obtain copies of the affidavits before they could be sealed by a judge.
Now sealed, the documents show that Bengharsa financed part of Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl’s weapons arsenal, and FBI counter-terrorism investigators believed the Maryland imam and the Detroit man were plotting violent jihad.
Furthermore, the FBI believes Detroit terror suspect Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl and a Maryland imam are also involved in a conspiracy to commit violent jihad in support of the Islamic State, according to court records.
Bengharsa has not been charged with a crime during the ongoing investigation and has denied being an Islamic State supporter.
However, Bengharsa did help finance Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl’s arsenal, which included two AK-47s, handguns, seven rifles, a shotgun and thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to the court records. It is unknown whether the imam was financing weapons purchases in other parts of the country.
Bank records obtained by the FBI showed the imam wrote a $1,300 check to Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl on June 24, 2015.
In the memo line on the check was the word “zakat,” a word referring to the Muslim obligation to give to charity, according to the FBI.
Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl cashed the check days later and deposited $800 in his checking account, the FBI said. It was the largest deposit Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl had made since opening the account.
“An analysis of Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl’s bank account reveals that the $800 provided by Bengharsa financed several of the purchases …,” including tactical knives, dummy rounds and Japanese swords, the FBI agent wrote in court records.
The imam claimed that he often donates money to needy people, particularly former members of his mosque, but on Monday, prosecutors showed that Bengharsa sent more money to Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl than was previously disclosed.
Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl deposited a $1,200 check from the imam on June 24, 2016, according to prosecutors, and on June 25, 2016, he withdrew $500 and bought a rifle for $486. A few days after that, Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl withdrew $480 and bought a glock handgun. These purchases coincided with the man’s plans to wage an unspecified terror attack in support of the Islamic State, prosecutors said.
Considering the fact that he only made $9.50/hour stocking shelves at Target, prosecutors noted that just one of Abdurrahman Bin Mikaayl’s gun purchases was equivalent to the amount of his $489.16 bi-weekly paycheck.
“The defendant spent an increasing proportion of his small salary on weapons and weapon-related accessories in answer to ISIS’s call to amass weaponry, rather than on necessities for his wife and two young children,” the prosecutor pointed out.
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