DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area man who talked about attacking a church and a hospital on behalf of the Islamic State group was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday after a judge said remorse over his provocative words came “too little, too late.”
Khalil Abu Rayyan, 23, wasn’t charged with a terrorist act. But U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh said he couldn’t ignore Rayyan’s threats and infatuation with terrorism as he sentenced him for gun-related crimes.
Rayyan kept a beheading photo on his cellphone screen, boasted about becoming a martyr and repeatedly expressed support for Islamic State. He said he wanted to skin victims “like sheep.” The FBI learned about his online activities and used an undercover operative to reach out to him during the investigation.
Rayyan apologized in court last week and said he didn’t actually hurt anyone. He said he’s a different man after spending more than a year in custody.
Steeh said he hoped the remorse was genuine, but he considered it to be “too little, too late.”
“Any prisoner in his shoes would be willing to do the same,” the judge said.
The government asked for eight years in prison, partly to discourage anyone who might want to make similar threats or plans.
“He dreamed about jihad … He had prepared himself by looking at the carnage of others who engaged in this type of behavior,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet said.
Defense attorney Todd Shanker acknowledged that Rayyan’s statements were “terrible.” But he said Rayyan was an insecure young man who was hooked on marijuana and simply wanted to impress the undercover woman online.
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