A man who made death threats on Twitter against federal law enforcement officials in connection with the case against six Minneapolis men accused of trying to join ISIL now faces federal charges of his own.
Mahamed Abukar Said, 19, was charged Friday with two criminal counts for threatening "to assault and murder a federal law enforcement officer."
According to the criminal complaints, he tweeted a photo of the government's confidential informant in the case against the six defendants accused of conspiring to join ISIL. He also threatened federal prosecutors with a "massacre," investigators allege.
Included in the federal complaint were copies of Said's alleged tweets, including one that said, "Ima whack that us attorney general."
The criminal complaint said that Said lives in Minneapolis with relatives, "attends school, and is on probationary supervision in Hennepin County for a fifth-degree controlled substance offense."
Said appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Rau, who signed the complaint, filed and also signed by FBI Special Agent Michael Iverson.
The charges note that in addition to a threat to kill the U.S. Attorney General, Said added, "The Feds are getting two choices. Either they gon free my bros or they gon have a massacre happen then they gon take me too."
The complaint notes that the U.S. attorney in Minneapolis and the FBI special agent in charge — Andy Luger and Richard Thornton, although the complaint does not specifically name them — received "significant media attention, that included articles, photographs and video, when they announced on Monday the arrest and prosecution of six men for providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)."
The tweeted threats that followed, beginning Wednesday, appear to have been aimed at Luger and assistant U.S. attorneys, the complaint says.
It notes that though 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.
Agent Iverson said that one aspect of the investigation of the six Minneapolis men accused of conspiring to go to Syria to fight for ISIL was the monitoring of their Twitter accounts and individuals associated with them. Agents began seeing tweets, retweets and comments Wednesday by "Mahamed Said@ImMahamed" associated with the account of one of the six men arrested, Guled Ali Omar. One read, "Guguled I love you."
Another tweet listed a phone number, the same number Said has used to contact his probation officer, along with a picture from a booking photo of himself that "appears to be" the same individual in Minnesota driver's license records," the complaint said.
A brother of Guled Omar, Mohamed Ali Omar, was charged last November with threatening to assault federal law officers when FBI agents went to a south Minneapolis house "to attempt to conduct an interview of a family member," apparently in connection with the investigation of Guled Omar. Mohamed Omar was convicted at trial in March and is awaiting sentencing.
Asked about Said's arrest, Omar Jamal, a Somali community activist, said, "The anger of young people in the community is completely misplaced, and some people are inciting them. There's a sense of uneasiness in the community."
He urged members of the Somali community to "let the court system take its course" and spare the defendants' families further grief.
The tweets could be interpreted in different ways, said Joseph Daly, Hamline University emeritus professor of law. "From a defense point of view, one could say he is not serious, because he is disclosing his name, his photo and his phone number," Daly said. "[But] from a prosecutor's point of view, his language is indicating he has formulated an action plan."
Fifth man to be returned
Meanwhile, in San Diego, a U.S. magistrate judge on Friday ordered a 21-year-old man back to Minnesota to face charges that he was planning to go to Syria to join ISIL.
Magistrate Karen Crawford authorized the U.S. marshal's office in San Diego to return Mohamed Farah from California to Minnesota.
Four men were arrested in the Twin Cities and Farah and another man, Abdirahman Yasin Daud, also 21, were arrested in San Diego, allegedly on their way to cross into Mexico and board a flight to the Middle East.
Daud's attorney had asked Crawford for a continuance, so his case is scheduled to be heard next Thursday.
Kelly Thornton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego, said Crawford asked Farah if he was indeed Mohamed Farah.
"Yes," Farah replied. He waived a hearing to establish his identity, speeding the process for returning him to Minnesota where the charges have been filed, Thornton said.
Farah's brother, Adnan Farah, 19, has also been charged in the alleged conspiracy, and appeared in court in St. Paul Thursday with Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, Hanad Mustafe Musse and Guled Ali Omar. A federal judge ordered them held without bail, citing the seriousness of the charges and concerns that they could try to flee the country.