Khalil Abu Rayyan, a 22-year-old Muslim man of Dearborn Heights -- a Detroit suburb -- pled guilty in September to a gun charge but is still awaiting sentencing. While the US Attorney’s Office in Detroit wants to put him away for eight years, but the court has postponed sentencing him to later this month. Rayyan was to have been sentenced today before Judge George Caram Steeh in a Detroit US District Court in Detroit. However, the session went into overtime because of statements by the respective attorneys in the case.
Rayyan's case gained national notoriety when he was charged in 2016 as an example of homegrown support for the terrorist Islamic State. Two FBI employees flirted with Rayyan online, prompting Muslim advocates to criticize the FBI for using undercover employees and informants to entrap Muslims. On Monday, the court was filled with supportive family members and others. During the proceedings, guards brought him into the court in shackles but removed him during the proceedings.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet said before the court that Rayyan "continues to present a danger to the community. ... It's clear the defendant is dangerous." He added that Rayyan had talked about becoming a soldier for Islam by conducting a "martyrdom operation." Prosecutors produced a photograph of Rayyan holding a pistol and making a hand signal that has been understood as symbolizing allegiance to the Islamic State. Prosecutors said in a sentencing memo: "A lengthy sentence is ... necessary to deter others who may be contemplating terrorism or mass shootings. He spent years dedicated to ISIS — promoting and celebrating the terrorist organization’s aims."
Rayyan’s defense attorney, Todd Shanker, asked the court for leniency in sentencing: 15 months instead of eight years. "Rayyan is not a terrorist," Shanker said in court. "He never intended to hurt anyone." Shanker offered letters Rayyan wrote from jail to his family in which he apologized for his behavior. "These statements, which tightly embrace both family and American culture, could never be the writings of a terrorist," Shanker wrote in a sentencing document.
Prosecutors said in their sentencing memo, "A lengthy sentence is ... necessary to deter others who may be contemplating terrorism or mass shootings. He spent years dedicated to ISIS — promoting and celebrating the terrorist organization’s aims."
In February 2016, Dawud Walid of the local affiliate of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), "He was talking to a young lady who appears to have been the FBI informant and, if in fact he made the statements, that he was planning on shooting up a church. That's very troubling if that's the case. It also might have been the case that he was trying to show off for a pretty young lady that's an FBI informant."