GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Attorneys for the three men arrested in Kent County and accused of trying to join the Islamic State militant group claim the FBI was “paving the way” for their clients get more involved in the terrorist organization.
Muse Muse, 20; his brother 23-year-old Mohamud Muse; and cousin 26-year-old Mohamed Haji were all in federal court in Grand Rapids for a detention hearing Friday.
A federal agent testified as the U.S. Attorney’s Office laid out the evidence against the trio. Federal investigators arrested them at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport on Monday, when authorities say Muse Muse was boarding a plane to fly to Somalia to join and fight for the Islamic State.
The agent testified that the men thought they had been talking to people associated with ISIS on Facebook Messenger for months, but they were actually in contact with undercover FBI employees.
A federal criminal complaint states all three men pledged their allegiance to ISIS in videos they recorded themselves. The U.S. Department of Justice says Muse Muse and Haji allegedly discussed their desire to join ISIS, kill nonbelievers and even potentially use a car to run down nonbelievers in the U.S. if they couldn’t get overseas to fight for ISIS.
However, the three defense attorneys representing each suspect placed the blame on the FBI. They argued in court that “you can have pro-ISIS views” without committing a crime, and said it was the FBI that provided money for travel and helped the suspects further their interest in going overseas.
“You heard the agent testified that before the FBI got involved, none of the gentlemen had ever spoken with anyone from ISIS at all; not until the FBI gets involved and this crime is created,” Mary Chartier, the attorney for Haji, told 24 Hour News 8 after the hearing.
“Our position is going to be that the government created the circumstances and then brought these charges and we’re going to fight it tooth and nail,” she continued.
A detention hearing is to determine whether the men will remain in federal custody or released while their cases move forward.
The hearing was initially set to resume Monday, but was rescheduled to Thursday afternoon.