Detroit Man Pledged Allegiance to Islamic State, Vowed to Kill, Feds Say

The home of accused ISIS supporter Jibreel Pratt, 25, on May 28, 2024, in Detroit, Michigan. (Clarence Tabb Jr./The Detroit News/TNS)

DETROIT (The Detroit News/TNS) — A Detroit man pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, pitched himself as the terror group’s next-generation leader and vowed to help kill as many non-Muslims as possible during a series of incriminating messages he unwittingly exchanged with an FBI informant, according to federal prosecutors.

Jibreel Pratt, 25, stockpiled weapons and battlefield gear, tried to obtain advanced missile technologies and acquire explosive devices — including suicide drones, and remote-controlled cars, prosecutors alleged. He also offered to create a terror cell in metro Detroit and sent cryptocurrency to what he thought was an ISIS contact to finance the terror group’s martyrdom operations, according to the government.

The allegations were included in a federal court filing by prosecutors in hopes of convincing a federal magistrate judge to keep Pratt jailed while awaiting trial in the latest terrorism case against a Detroit man accused of providing support to ISIS. Pratt is scheduled to appear in federal court for a detention hearing at 1 p.m. Thursday in Detroit.

The government filing late Tuesday came hours after Pratt was arrested and prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging him with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State. The bare-bones indictment alleges that he tried to provide money to the foreign terrorist organization from March-May 2023.

The court filing offers an intimate view of the roots of a terrorism investigation and a profile of an accused ISIS volunteer who wanted to leave America because, according to the government, “these people are savages. Like rabid dogs.”

Prosecutors included photos of handwritten plans by Pratt to create an ISIS intelligence unit to “kill or kidnap without detection” and pictures of Pratt with firearms. That included an image of a loaded handgun federal agents found hidden within a dog food container during FBI raids Tuesday across the region.

“Pratt’s meticulous plotting to support ISIS makes him a danger to the community. He is also a self-confessed flight risk,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jerome Gorgon and Doug Salzenstein wrote. “And he has continuously violated his current federal supervision by possessing a loaded gun, continuing his ISIS plot, and planning his escape. He should be detained.”

The ISIS investigation coincided with a separate federal case against Pratt. Last summer, he was charged with wire fraud and other financial charges and he was released on bond after prosecutors failed to mention his alleged support of ISIS or argue that Pratt was dangerous.

U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison’s office declined comment about why prosecutors never mentioned the ISIS investigation last summer. And Pratt’s court-appointed lawyer, Todd Shanker, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Pratt’s involvement with the FBI informant dates to February 2023, according to the government. Using an encrypted WhatsApp number, Pratt contacted the informant, who was posing as an ISIS travel facilitator, prosecutors allege.

Pratt’s profile photo on the app was a picture of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric who trained would-be suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009.

Pratt told the informant he wanted to help the Muslim community.

“Pratt offered the ISIS source several ways that he could help ISIS against its enemies, including America,” prosecutors wrote.

Also in February 2023, Pratt said his main objective was conducting cybersecurity for ISIS, claimed to be a skilled hacker and boasted he would be a “big asset” for the Islamic State, prosecutors allege.

“He also hoped to build an intelligence agency within ISIS because it is necessary ‘to use the brain to make sure the weapon is precise on its target,'” prosecutors wrote.

Pratt sent more than 30 handwritten plans to the informant that described creating a special intelligence unit to “kill or kidnap without detection,'” according to the government.

He also reiterated his interest in creating and leading an ISIS squadron tasked with interrogations, kidnapping and assassinations, prosecutors alleged.

“Pratt said that his training was necessary for ‘us to gain control and grow the state…,'” according to the filing.

Meanwhile, Pratt was amassing weapons.

In March 2023, he sent the FBI informant a photo of guns, including an AR-style long gun and a handgun, prosecutors allege. FBI agents seized two of his guns in August 2023 when he was arrested in the fraud case.

“Pratt told the ISIS source that Pratt is ‘100% certain’ that he ‘will have zero issues with’ the weapons portion of his ISIS training,” prosecutors wrote. “Pratt admitted that explosives training ‘will be a new skill for me’ and ‘an interesting one to learn.'”

Pratt was also stockpiling battlefield gear, including waterproof military boots and a gas mask, the filing alleges. He also bought a plane ticket to Turkey. Prosecutors have said it was common for aspiring foreign terrorists traveling to join terror groups in Syria to buy plane tickets to Turkey, deliberately miss their connecting flight and, instead, cross the Turkish-Syrian border to join ISIS.

Pratt said he was raising money for the trip overseas to join ISIS.

“I am dying to come,” he wrote.

Around that time, Pratt moved from his grandparents’ home in the 17000 block of Bentler Street, near Lahser and W. McNichols roads, to an apartment in Wixom.

In August, he discussed creating an ISIS cell in the U.S. before heading overseas, prosecutors allege.

Prosecutors tried to have Pratt detained temporarily, arguing he was a flight risk, but did not argue that Pratt was a danger to the community and never mentioned the ISIS allegations.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Grand released Pratt on bond but ordered him to remove guns from his home and surrender his passport.

“I haven’t really heard anything that would tell me that Mr. Pratt is a serious risk of flight,” Grand said.

During a search at Pratt’s grandparents’ home in Detroit, investigators found the boots, gas mask, ammunition and two loaded guns, including a black semiautomatic rifle and a .22-caliber rifle.

At the Wixom apartment, investigators found an AR-style firearm loaded with almost 30 rounds, a separate, loaded magazine and a loaded Glock handgun in his vehicle, prosecutors alleged.

Investigators also found handwritten “goodbye” letters inside the Wixom apartment. One was addressed to “Dad” and appeared to be in Pratt’s handwriting.

“Take care of yourself and be safe,” the letter reads. “Things were just not working out for me no matter what I did or tried. We all have our own paths in life while mine could be cut short, I just hope one day you come to know true Islam…”

Investigators searched Pratt’s phone and in August learned he had researched terrorism-related terms, including “acid attack” and “martyrdom,” according to prosecutors.

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