The Star Tribune headline refers to Abdul Raheem Habil Ali-Skelton (no relation to Red) as “Glencoe man.” (Glencoe is a small town about 50 miles west of Minneapolis.) Ali-Skelton seems to have something in common with the “Minnesota men” charged with supporting ISIS. Indeed, Ali-Skelton pleaded guilty this past Wednesday of lying to the FBI about his contacts with ISIS. Prosecutors said he had exchanged more than 75 messages with ISIS between June 27 and July 4 last year using a social media account he tried to conceal from the FBI.
Late last month, five days after Mr. Ali-Skelton was charged last month, he was arrested at a a suburban Minneapolis Walgreens after he threatened to blow up the store and said he was “part of a terrorist organization.” The Star Tribune reports that the early morning incident on March 27 was sparked by Ali-Skelton accusing another customer of having relations with his girlfriend and threatening the man with a bottle. When a store manager intervened, Ali-Skelton said he had a gun and would shoot up the store. He later admitted to officers that he made the threats to shoot up the store but did not remember referring to a terror organization or saying he would blow up the Walgreens. On Monday, Ali-Skelton pleaded guilty in Hennepin County to making terroristic threats.
All in all, it was a big week for Ali-Skelton.
State authorities released Ali-Skelton from custody pending a June 30 sentencing on the terroristic threats offense. Fortunately, however, in the matter of lying to the FBI, Ali-Skelton has been remitted to federal custody on the order of Judge Donovan Frank. Judge Frank reasonably takes the position that his detention is necessary to ensure the safety of the community.
Ali-Skelton is represented by attorney Robert Richman. Mr. Richman asserts on behalf of his client that the terroristic threats represent some kind of misunderstanding. He explained on Tuesday: “From what I understand about those allegations, if they are true … they are completely out of character with the very mild-mannered Abdul Ali-Skelton, [whom] I have known for quite some time.” It was just one of those things, one of those crazy things.
Richman said Ali-Skelton’s actions at the Walgreens amounted to “a drunken rant.” He also offered this: “I liken this to cases after [9/11] when airport security was at an all-time high and some misguided people thought it would be funny to say they had a bomb in their bag,” Richman said. “They may have proved themselves to be idiots but they did not prove themselves to be dangerous.”
The Star Tribune story reports that Ali-Skelton’s case is unrelated to the case of the ten “Minnesota men” charged with seeking to join ISIS. Ali-Skelton, however, appears to share their enthusiasms and their faith, which otherwise goes unmentioned. By their hometown shall ye know them.