A 19-year-old Somali-American man will remain jailed for allegedly posting threats against federal agents on Twitter after a judge ruled Wednesday that the evidence is sufficient to support the charges against him.
However, the attorney for Khaalid Abdulkadir will continue arguing for his release Monday, saying there’s no proof he wrote the tweets, which didn’t name specific FBI agents or judges.
Amid heavy security and in a packed hearing filled with supporters, FBI special agent Vadym Vinetsky testified that they were provided a screenshot of the since-deleted tweets by a confidential informant. The tweets came within hours of last week’s arrest of Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame of Eagan on charges of conspiring to support the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Agents allege that Abdulkadir allegedly tweeted from @kabdulkadir14: “More brother get locked up the cops body they will find on the floor body’s dropping fast #kill them FBI and [expletive] as judge.” Another tweet from the same account read: “[Expletive] them F.B.I. I’m kill them FEDS for take my brothers.”
He also allegedly reached out to other indicted men who made it overseas to fight for Al-Shabab and ISIL, and sought advice on how to join them.
Vinetsky testified that agents verified that the tweets were from Abdulkadir by his photograph and by matching a phone number he tweeted to one listed on his Facebook account. He said the tweets followed a history of animosity toward federal agents. After a May 9 federal court hearing following the arrest of six men on terror conspiracy charges, Abdulkadir allegedly began filming a U.S. marshal through a cafe window with his cellphone. Vinetsky also testified that Abdulkadir was combative during his arrest.
Abdulkadir’s court-appointed attorney, Christopher Madel, countered that Abdulkadir only filmed the marshal because the marshal was filming him, and that he was aggressive during the arrest because agents stormed into his home while serving the arrest warrant.
“You do know that smoke grenades were thrown into that house; did you know there was a little boy in that house?” Madel asked. “That might explain why Mr. Abdulkadir was a little upset in the backyard when he was arrested.”
“If you say so,” Vinetsky responded.
Madel also questioned the FBI’s verification that Abdulkadir created the account, noting that the user spelled Abdulkadir’s first name incorrectly.
Madel represented Mahamed Abukar Said, 20, of Minneapolis, who allegedly threatened authorities, including the U.S. Attorney in Minneapolis and the FBI, with a “massacre” in the wake of charges against six Twin Cities men for allegedly conspiring to join ISIL. However, in September a federal judge ordered the government to provide more specific details about who was threatened and how to support the felony indictment. Said later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
Madel leveled the same argument Wednesday, saying the threat must be targeted toward someone specific.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty countered that Abdulkadir’s posts were more than just idle discontent.
“He didn’t say ‘Screw them,’ he didn’t say ‘I disagree,’ he said ‘Kill,’ Docherty said. “These are threats to kill.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel ruled that probable cause exists to refer the case to a grand jury, which will decide whether or not to formally indict Abdulkadir.