Mpls. man who pleaded guilty to threatening agents is released from jail

Khaalid Abdulkadir, far right, outside courthouse.
Khaalid Abdulkadir, far right, along with family and supporters, outside the U.S. District Courthouse after he was released on Tuesday.
Mukhtar Ibrahim | MPR News

Updated: 5:11 p.m. | Posted: 12:49 p.m.

When a judge ordered Khaalid Abdulkadir to be released from jail, some of the young man's relatives broke down in tears.

Abdulkadir's aunt used her overflowing headscarf to wipe away the tears of joy and hugged Abdulkadir's mother, Deqa Warsame.

"I'm very happy today," Warsame said outside the courtroom.

One early December morning, more 30 law enforcement personnel descended on Abdulkadir's home, and according to Abdulkadir's father, breaking the doors and throwing a smoke grenade inside the home before arresting the 19-year-old man.

The Minneapolis man has been in Sherburne County Jail after he was charged with impeding and retaliating against federal agents.

Khaalid Adam Abdulkadir talks with reporters.
Khaalid Adam Abdulkadir talks with reporters after he was released from custody Tuesday.
Amy Forliti | AP

"I'm sorry for everything I did wrong," Abdulkadir told U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier. "I learned from my mistake."

Prosecutors say Abdulkadir took his anger to Twitter after authorities arrested his friend, Abdirizak Warsame, in December for plotting to join ISIS in Syria.

Abdulkadir was arrested Dec. 11, after he posted tweets that said he was going to kill FBI agents for taking away his brothers.

"They will find on the floor body's dropping fast #kill them FBI," read one of his tweets.

The posts were deleted less than 30 minutes later. But before Abdulkadir had the chance to delete what he'd posted on Dec. 9, the FBI was on it. Agents had been tipped off by an informant and obtained screenshots of the tweets, according to the criminal complaint detailing charges against him.

"By his own admission in court today, Mr. Abdulkadir threatened to kill a federal judge and law enforcement officers," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. "The three years of probation he will begin serving today is a strong reminder that threatening federal officials with violence is not a legitimate means of voicing dissent, but will be prosecuted forcefully by my office."

Abdulkadir's attorney, Chris Madel, said the government decided to offer his client a plea deal after they filed a motion Monday morning compelling the government to bar some evidence from the trial, which was set to start on Tuesday.

"We are pleased that the government realized, even at the 11th hour, of the weakness of their case," he said. "We are happy to get this misdemeanor."

Abdulkadir, who was initially charged with a felony, was sentenced to three years of probation and will be subjected to internet monitoring and frequent drug testing. He's also prohibited from viewing extremist content.

Abdulkadir's case is similar to the case of another Somali-American, Mahamed Said, who tweeted that he would "whack," "kill" and "massacre" the person responsible for charging six of his friends on the same day in April last year over conspiring to join ISIS. Said pleaded guilty in October to a misdemeanor charge.

Before the arrest, Abdulkadir was a pre-nursing student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He spent most of his free time using PlayStation, playing football, smoking marijuana and hanging out with the wrong crowd, according to his lawyer.

"My client is a 19-year-old," he said. "19 year olds do dumb things."

In December, Abdulkadir's father, Adam Aded, told MPR News that the FBI came to their house and interviewed his son several times. Those visits were triggered by an anonymous phone tip from a stolen phone, saying Abdulkadir was interested in going to Syria to join ISIS, an allegation that the father denied.

"We don't intend to introduce evidence of this anonymous tip," the government said in a court document released by the defense on Monday.

Prosecutor Charles Kovats said Abdulkadir committed a "criminal act" and the government took that seriously. He added that placing Abdulkadir on probation for three years will motivate him to stay away from the act that caused him to be put in jail.

After the judge ordered his release, Abdulkadir went to the court's fourth floor and met with the probation officers, who put a GPS monitoring bracelet on his left ankle.

Abdulkadir signed on the probation compliance letter, changed his prison clothes to a dress shirt and tie. Afterwards, he met his family and friends who waited for him for more than two hours inside the court building.

"I'm really happy that he's coming home," Abdulkadir's younger sister, Ridwan said, a wide smile covering her face.

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