Federal Bureau of Investigation officials say that 21-year-old Dearborn Heights, Michigan resident Khalil Abu-Rayyan told an undercover informant that he had planned to carry out a mass shooting on a Detroit church but was foiled when his father discovered evidence of the plot.
WDIV ClickOnDetroit notes that Abu-Rayyan is currently in custody on drug and gun charges in connection with an Oct. 7, 2015 traffic stop in which he was found in possession of marijuana, sleeping pills, and a pistol. He has not been charged with any crimes related to terrorism, though authorities say that such charges might be added in the future.
The FBI had been monitoring Abu-Rayyan’s activities since May of 2015 when he allegedly began liking and sharing ISIS propaganda on Twitter.
According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday by an FBI special agent, Abu-Rayyan spoke with an undercover informant in Dec. of 2015 and reportedly expressed support for ISIS and interest in carrying out a martyrdom operation.
The complaint claimed that Abu-Rayyan told the informant, “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.”
He allegedly told the informant that he singled out the church for a mass shooting inspired by ISIS because, “It’s easy and a lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church. Plus it would make the news. Everybody would’ve heard.” The FBI says that Abu-Rayyan did not specify which church, but noted that it has seating for 6,000 people.
FBI officials say that Abu-Rayyan claimed to carry a large knife in his car and said that it is his “dream to behead someone.” The informant also said that Abu-Rayyan had expressed interest in murdering the police officer that arrested him on Oct. 7.
Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan executive director Dawud Walid told The Detroit News, “If the allegations are true, then they’re extremely troublesome,” but that his organization is “encouraging the broader community to also reserve judgment regarding this matter.”
Abuy-Rayyan is set to face a detention hearing on Monday afternoon.