A judge has ordered prosecutors to provide more specific details of alleged death threats made over Twitter by a Minneapolis man against federal law enforcement officials, meaning the case must return to a grand jury for a new indictment.
An indictment filed in April against Mahamed Abukar Said, 20, of Minneapolis alleged he threatened authorities, including the U.S. Attorney in Minneapolis and the FBI, with a "massacre" in the wake of charges against six Somali-American Twin Cities men for allegedly conspiring to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Said told FBI agents after his arrest that he was close friends with five of the six men.
However, on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol ordered the government to file a document stating "who was allegedly threatened, how that person was allegedly threatened and what was stated that allegedly constitutes a threat." Piersol also dismissed a second count of interstate threats by Said "for lack of specificity."
Federal prosecutors must again bring the case before a grand jury for an indictment that more specifically identifies who Said threatened, and how.
According to the complaint, the tweets read "Ima whack that us attorney general" and "The Feds are getting two choices. Either they gon free mybros or they gon have a massacre happen then they gon take me too."
Neither Andrew Luger, who is a U.S. attorney rather than a U.S. attorney general, or FBI special agent in charge Richard Thornton are named in the tweets. Although the complaint against Said doesn't name Luger or Thornton as direct targets, it notes that they received "significant media attention" shortly after they announced the arrests and charges against the six.
The complaint notes that although Said identified only "U.S. Attorney General" in his death threats, "individuals not involved in the federal criminal justice system often identify a United States Attorney or an Assistant United States Attorney using an errant title."
"Ill kill for these guys if they don't free my brothers," Said wrote in one tweet. He reposted tweets from one of the arrested men, Guled Ali Omar, and wrote one directed toward him that read "Guguled I love you." A tweet featured a photo of the FBI informant crucial to the case against the six men, referring to him as a "snitch."
Piersol, of South Dakota, is presiding over the case because all federal judges from Minnesota have been recused from handling the case, as has the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis, since Luger is an alleged victim. The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin is prosecuting the case.
"We're pleased with the ruling and we're looking forward to litigating this further," said Said's attorney, Christopher Madel.
Ben Petok, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis, said he could not comment. Myra Longfield, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in the Western District of Wisconsin, refused to comment. Said remains in Anoka County jail.
The ruling comes three months after the release of a Minneapolis man convicted of threatening FBI agents who arrived on his doorstep to question his brother about alleged terrorism involvement. Mohamed Ali Omar, 22, the brother of Guled Omar, had spent the past seven months in federal detention after he was charged in November with threatening federal agents and an interpreter who arrived at his home looking for his brother. He was convicted in March but released in June pending sentencing. His attorney has said he hopes Omar's time will be considered served.