KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A federal judge on Thursday ordered a Kansas City, Missouri, man to be detained without bond on a passport fraud charge while the FBI investigates what the judge suggested was the native Somali’s “long-held goal to leave this country to join a foreign terrorist organization.”
Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Hays declined bond for 21-year-old Isse Aweis Mohamud, siding with prosecutors in finding that Mohamud could be a flight and public safety risk.
Prosecutors allege Mohamud lied when he said on a January passport application that he planned to use it to go to Canada — a trip he eventually took the next month, spending a week in Vancouver.
But an FBI agent assigned to an international terrorism squad, Michael Buono, says in an affidavit that Mohamud ultimately went secretly last month to Egypt — what the government believes was his intended destination when he sought the passport — and was detained there by authorities.
Mohamud’s family reported him missing and expressed concern the travel was terrorism-related, Buono wrote.
When Mohamud flew back last week to the United States, Buono wrote, he agreed to be interviewed by the FBI. Buono alleged that Mohamud told investigators he had Egypt in mind when he applied for the passport, making his professed intention to travel to Canada “intentionally false.”
On Thursday, Hays ruled in ordering Mohamud detained that “evidence presented suggests that for several years, (Mohamud) had contemplated leaving his home to join a foreign terrorist organization and had taken significant steps to bring his plan to fruition.”
Those alleged steps, the judge insisted, including Mohamud’s saving money to finance his travel, obtaining educational books in a bid to learn Arabic, developing foreign contacts, getting a passport, deleting communications from his social media accounts and electronic devices, and traveling to Egypt.
Mohamud’s “long-held goal to leave this country to join a foreign terrorist organization, as well as his recently displayed ability to carry through on his plan by covertly leaving his home for overseas travel, causes the court to find by a preponderance of the evidence that there is a serious risk defendant will flee if released on bond,” the Hays wrote.
Mohamud’s public defender, Carie Allen, declined comment Thursday, telling The Associated Press she did not have authority from her client to speak to reporters.