A Seattle man previously convicted of throwing his shoe at a King County judge is now accused of threatening to kill an FBI agent after claiming to have information about a terrorist believed to have been killed in Somalia.
In court documents unsealed earlier this month, federal prosecutors claim Abdi Ali Abukar, 24, threatened to harm a Seattle FBI agent’s family if the agent didn’t deal with harassment charges pending against Abukar.
According to charging documents, Abukar offered information about Ruben Shumpert, a Seattle barber previously investigated by the FBI for ties to a radical jihadist group. Writing the court, an FBI special agent noted Shumpert is believed to have been killed in Somalia during fighting there.
The deal Abukar hoped to broker didn’t go through. He was sentenced earlier this month to two years in state prison for threatening to kill a young woman, and will likely see even more prison time if convicted of threatening the FBI agent.
The most recent allegations follow years of legal trouble for Abukar, a mentally ill man with a criminal history dating to his teenage years.
Abukar, who moved to the United States from Somalia as a child, was previously sentenced to a four-year prison term for a 2008 crime spree that saw him hold up a girl at gunpoint, fire a gun at the home of a young woman and arrange a home invasion on his own mother. He was convicted of misdemeanor assault for throwing a jail-issued slipper at a King County judge in 2010, and was most recently sentenced for threatening to kill the young woman whose house he’d previously shot.
Court documents show Abukar has previously threatened to kill Seattle police, judges and attorneys. He also threatened to kill Americans as “jihad,” though state psychiatrists uniformly dismissed the statements as a bid by Abukar to stay at Western State Hospital.
At issue in the federal case are allegations that Abukar threatened to kill a Seattle FBI agent while free on bond and facing state harassment charges.
Writing the court, the investigating FBI agent said Abukar called his alleged victim in July and, identifying himself as “Miller,” claimed to have information about Shumpert. Abukar asked to meet the agent at Seattle Public Library’s flagship branch downtown but an agreement wasn’t reached.
Days later, Abukar sent the agent an email demanding the agent to clear his warrants and outstanding charges and pay him $6,000 for “terrorist information,” the investigating agent told the court. Abukar is alleged to have gone on to mention members of the agent’s family by name while threatening that “things will go wrong and violently” if he was followed or watched.
The agent noted that the man about whom Abukar claimed to have information – Shumpert, who fled the United States in 2007 – had likely been killed.
“Shumpert was previously under investigation by FBI Seattle for recruiting individuals in Seattle to join an extreme Islamic group in California to raise money for jihad efforts,” the investigating agent told the court. “Shumpert has since fled the United States and, based on intelligence information, was injured while fighting in Somalia and may be dead.”
Operator of the Crescent Cuts Barber Shop, Shumpert cast himself as the leader of a group of Seattle men who sometimes gathered at the barber shop to discuss Islam and violent jihad. FBI investigators determined the men were either unable or unwilling to commit terrorist acts, but discovered several were involved in other crimes.
Shumpert pleaded guilty to gun and counterfeiting charges, but apparently failed to show up in court for a November 2006 sentencing hearing.
Concerned about Abukar’s email, the FBI launched an investigation while the agent continued corresponding with Abukar. According to charging documents, Abukar ultimately gave the agent his true name and birthday.
“You better not hunt me or turn me down,” Abukar said in an email, according to charging documents. “I DO CARRY. If you know what that means. … Don’t forget the rules.”
In the series of emails and phone calls that followed, Abukar refused to meet with the agent unless he could bring a pistol and demanded the warrants be rescinded before he passed on any information, the investigating agent told the court.
Seattle police arrested Abukar on July 29. According to charging documents, he admitted to emailing the agent and said he’d been acting alone.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Abukar days later under seal. A grand jury indictment – also sealed – followed in October; Abukar pleaded not guilty to the charge of threats against a federal agent at an arraignment on April 19.
In a memo filed in King County Superior Court, Abukar’s attorney in the most recent state case said his client is expected to plead guilty to the federal charge. He would be credited for the prison time he serves on the state harassment charges.
Public defender Paul Vernon described Abukar as a young man troubled by his childhood in Somalia and mental illness.
“His life has consisted of a series of traumatic events,” the attorney said in the April 8 court documents. “His father was killed when he was a child and he also observed other people being killed. … Nonetheless, he completed high school and attended community college for a year but had to stop because of his increasingly severe mental health symptoms.”
Abukar has previously been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, found to be psychotic and is known to have experienced severe hallucinations. Psychiatric records show he has railed against non-Muslims and offered outlandish claims of terrorist training he received, while sometimes requesting mental health treatment and discussing the voices in his head.
Acknowledging that Abukar may have been exaggerating and making statements for effect, two state psychologists described him as a “serious and highly dangerous individual” in September 2010. Six months later, he threatened to kill the Seattle woman whose home he’d previously shot.
Abukar is now in custody pending the resolution of the federal charge against him. His trial is currently scheduled to begin in June.