After Manchester, growing concerns in Minneapolis

The massacre in Manchester this week seems to have prompted attention to the arrest of brothers Abdullah and Majid Alrifahe in north Minneapolis on May 11. Inside the parked car they were sitting in was a stash of guns, ammo, drone parts and an inert hand grenade. The arrest report provides an inventory of the stash officers found in “a cursory search” of the vehicle: “a loaded AK 47-type assault rifle, another rifle, several assault rifle magazines and large quantities of different ammunition (including shotgun shells), discharged shell casings and BB ammunition. Also found were several cell phones, computers and electronics equipment including drone parts.” And then we have this: “Bomb Squad personnel called to the scene noted that the variety of the ammunition and large quantity of BBs and electronic devices could be used for bomb-making.”

The Star Tribune published a brief article the following week. The Star Tribune story appears to be drawn directly from the arrest report. It has not returned to the story since the linked May 15 article. We followed up with law enforcement sources and noted the arrests here (May 16) and here.

As the driver of the car in which the stash was found, Abdullah Alrifahe has been charged with one felony count of possession of a pistol without a permit. He is in detention on $200,000 bond, which is suggestive of the seriousness with which authorities view the case. Majid Alrifahe, however, has been cited only for misdemeanor offenses and released. His case lies with the Minneapolis City Attorney. Reporters have not been able to reach Majid since the arrests.

Local law enforcement authorities have called on the FBI to see if agents can shed light on what’s happening here. So far as I can tell, the brothers do not appear on any watch list. Abdullah may be deportable if convicted of the felony charge, though no one has reported the brothers’ immigration status. Reading the arrest report, however, one can infer that the case has a wrinkle or two. I will attend the pretrial hearing in the case scheduled on June 12.

Yesterday, nearly two weeks after the arrests, CBSMinnesota’s Esme Murphy reported on the case (text here, video below). The sole felony charge against Abdullah and the misdemeanor charges against Majid belie the seriousness of the case reflected in the amount at which bail is set on Abdullah Alrifahe. The text of the story tactfully states that the case has raised “growing concerns.” Authorities have obviously had concerns since they found the brothers’ stash.

Esme consulted criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino (not involved in the case) for his comments. Tamburino explains that additional charges could be filed, which is always true. We will have to stay tuned.

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