A 21-year-old alleged ISIS supporter from Michigan, who planned to “shoot up” a 6,000-member church, has been arrested by the FBI, according to latest reports in the media.
Khalil Abu-Rayyan, of Dearborn Heights, had plans to carry out a mass attack at a yet-unidentified church in Detroit, federal authorities revealed Saturday. The Michigan ISIS supporter had reportedly obtained guns and and a large knife to execute the members of the church, although more details about the venue of the attack, or exactly when Abu-Rayyan intended to carry the plan out, still remain shrouded in mystery.
The ISIS supporter’s plans were uncovered during a secret operation by the FBI, which saw one of its undercover agents strike up conversations with Abu-Rayyan, apparently pretending to have sympathy for his cause.
Detailing his plans to carry out the church attack, the Michigan ISIS supporter told the agent that he planned “to shoot up a church,” further saying that he had “bought a bunch of bullets and ‘practiced reloading and unloading’ ” to execute the same.
In an image released by FBI, taken from Abu-Rayyan’s now-suspended Twitter page, he can be seen “raising his single index finger,” which is commonly regarded as a “gesture made by ISIS supporters” to proclaim their support for the group.
According to NBC News, federal authorities had been tracking Abu-Rayyan for several months because of his “increasingly violent threats” — both online and offline — about committing acts of terror and martyrdom against churchgoers and police officers on behalf of ISIS.
“During these conversations, Abu-Rayyan consistently expressed support for ISIL and repeatedly expressed his desire to commit a martyrdom operation,” the affidavit in the complaint read, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Federal authorities revealed that not only had Abu-Rayyan been making plans to attack a church and had previously said that it would be “easy” for him to shoot up its members, but had also openly expressed solidarity with the Islamist fundamentalist group on Twitter.
But, thanks to his father, the Michigan ISIS supporter’s plans never came to fruition.
According to authorities, Abu-Rayyan’s plans to carry out the shootings were foiled after his father — whose name has not been revealed to keep his identity safe — discovered his gun, ammunition, and a mask he was allegedly going to wear before he could carry out the attack.
“Honestly I regret not doing it. If I can’t do jihad in the Middle East, I would do my jihad over here,” Abu-Rayyan had said during one of his conversations with the agent.
Even more disturbing was another one of his wishes that the Michigan ISIS supporter hoped would some day turn into reality. “It is my dream to behead someone,” he had told the FBI agent.
— CNN (@CNN) February 6, 2016
The Guardian reports that the Michigan ISIS supporter belongs to an area in the Detroit suburbs which has longstanding Arab and Muslim populations, but U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade said that the discovery of Khalil Abu-Rayyan’s plans, and his subsequent arrest, has been as a grotesque “aberration” by community members.
“We’ve not had any ISIS cases arising out of [the area]. A lot of people vocally and visibly oppose ISIS.. No one should make any conclusions about Dearborn or Dearborn Heights from this.”
It remains to be seen if the Michigan ISIS supporter is charged with inciting terrorism, but Khalil Abu-Rayyan has been arrested in the past for speeding with a pistol, sleeping pills, and marijuana.
[Image via khalilray21/Twitter]