16ºF

Accused ISIS sympathizer in Dearborn Heights sentenced for gun charge

Khalil Abu-Rayyan of Dearborn Heights accused of plot to attack church

DETROIT – A Dearborn Heights man accused of making threats against a church, police and others in support of the Islamic State is scheduled was sentenced to probation Monday after pleading guilty to a gun charge.

Khalil Abu-Rayyan was not charged with terrorism-related crimes, but did face gun and drug-related charges. He pleaded guilty to the gun charge in exchange for dismissal of the drug charge.

Judge Craig Strong sentenced him to two years of probation including drug testing and 80 hours of community service. The 21-year-old has been in custody for about two weeks on the gun charge that stems from an arrest in October.

“I stand before you as an ashamed and embarrassed man," said Abu-Rayyan. “Words cannot describe how remorseful I am. My life will forever be impacted by the situation I put myself in."

The complaint in federal court doesn’t specify which Detroit church he allegedly planned on attacking, only that it was close and could seat 6,000 members.

The complaint quotes Abu-Rayyan as saying:

“It's easy, and a lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church. Plus it would make the news. Everybody would've heard. Honestly I regret not doing it. If I can't do jihad in the Middle East, I would do my jihad over here."

The full criminal complaint can be viewed here.

He had also told the undercover agent that a church would be an easy target because people are not allowed to carry guns there and that it would make the news.

Police said his father, Rayyan Abu-Rayyan, talked him out of the attack. In an affidavit, Rayyan Abu-Rayyan said he'll take responsibility for his son if a judge releases him on bond.

Khalil said Monday he is not a criminal or a thug, and said he is "not affiliated with anyone" before his attorney stopped him, saying he cannot comment about the federal complaint. Khalil explained to the judge why he had the gun. 

"I work in my dad’s pizzeria. I have been robbed at gunpoint several times in the last 8 years. Being a pizza deliveryman is a life or death situation. I have been called to vacant houses and robbed. I bought the gun as protection from a licensed dealer. I did not purchase the gun to rob anyone," he said. 

Judge Strong spoke before sentencing him.

"I believe you’re remorseful, and I believe the circumstances for which the crime was committed. He has strong family ties and is working. It looks like he was trying to do the right thing, but he didn’t do it the right way. But ignorance of the law is not an excuse," said the judge."