A 19-year-old Minneapolis man lost an appeal Thursday to get out of federal custody while awaiting trial on charges that he threatened federal judges and the U.S. attorney.
The lawyer for Khaalid Abdulkadir argued that his client should be released because his allegedly incendiary tweets were not directed at specific individuals, as required for conviction. He noted that prosecutors haven’t identified who was threatened or what the threat was.
Abdulkadir was indicted earlier this week on three charges related to tweets he is accused of sending after his friend, Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, of Eagan, was arrested on charges of conspiring to support the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The initial complaint against Abdulkadir alleges that he 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. He was formally indicted Tuesday by a grand jury.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty said Abdulkadir is a threat to the community and a flight risk because of his previous “aspirations” of fighting with ISIL.
But Abdulkadir’s attorney, Chris Madel, argued the tweets were no different from tax protesters “in northern Wisconsin and out West” raising their guns every April when tax returns are due and saying “Death to the IRS.”
“Nobody’s going to get hurt by Khaalid Abdulkadir,” Madel said.
U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier, who is based in Sioux Falls, S.D., disagreed about the threat potential. Schreier, who is hearing the case due to concerns about a conflict of interest with Minnesota judges, said Abdulkadir’s previous contacts with ISIL members overseas make him a threat.
Madel previously 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.
Abdulkadir’s trial is expected in late March, although no specific date was set. He is the latest man charged since last April for activities allegedly tied to ISIL. Three men have since pleaded guilty, while another six await trial in federal court.