The purpose of Rashid’s outreach was to find Islamic State members who would carry out a bombing on his behalf, according to the 22-page criminal complaint. Initially, the complaint says, he wanted to target a religious building or a nightclub before he later settled on the college deans. He allegedly requested the explosives be “as big as possible.”
Rashid was denied bond in court Monday.
A public defender listed as his representative did not immediately return requests for comment.
If convicted, Rashid faces up to 20 years in prison.
The lengthy complaint against Rashid, written by an FBI special agent, recounts a history of violent, misogynistic and extremist social media posts and messages to individuals.
Rashid’s behavior on several occasions crossed into in-person interactions, according to the complaint, including his alleged threatening messages to a female classmate at Miami Dade College. It was his behavior toward that student that got him suspended from the school in December 2018; he was later expelled by Broward College in May 2019 for failing to disclose the disciplinary matter at MDC.
Federal prosecutors say it was those expulsions and suspensions that ultimately led Rashid to want to target deans of the schools; he claimed he had been “humiliated” in at least once instance when one of the deans brought police to a meeting with Rashid. The targeted individuals were not named in the complaint.
The FBI began investigating Rashid in April 2018 after reviewing several of his Facebook posts that “advocated for the violent overthrow of democracy and the establishment of Islamic law,” according to the complaint. A source working with the FBI soon reached out to Rashid via Facebook Messenger to “establish an online friendship” and “build rapport” with Rashid.
Several months after Rashid’s initial Facebook posts caught the FBI’s attention, a classmate of Rashid’s from Miami Dade College filed a complaint against him and alleged he sent her threatening text messages that included angry and possessive language.
“In the hereafter, we will meet once again. But things will be a little different :). You will not have excuses, will not be given a choice and will have to come close to me …,” one of the messages read, according to the court documents.
The student complained that Rashid continued to send messages, and he was suspended in December of that year. But months later, the student reported that she was still feeling threatened and said she believes he tried to follow her to her car after class, according to the complaint.
Federal investigators wrote they later found evidence on Rashid’s computer that he had searched for “how to stalk someone’s house” and confided in one of the online sources he believed to be in the Islamic State that he knew where the woman lived and worked.
He also posted updates to Facebook, investigators said, with statements like one from February 2019 that read, “Feminists are a Cancer on Earth. If l had Authority, I Would Strip their skin from Flesh and Hang their Bodies I the Sun to Rot.”
Throughout 2019, the FBI documented that he posted more than a half-dozen messages expressing anger at the treatment of Muslims in the United States, and threats to others who disagreed with his ideology. Rashid believed he was a Muslim leader and would establish the next Caliphate, according to the complaint.
In May 2019, Rashid met with the undercover source in person to say he “wanted to leave this world” — but first, wanted to finish business in the form of an attack.
The source introduced Rashid to another individual he believed to be a member of the Islamic State but who was in fact another FBI source.
Up until early November, Rashid carried out conversations and plans about attacks that mixed a raft of details, grievances and apparent guidelines: Target “sinners,” he said, according to investigators; make the explosions big to “strike fear,” don’t hurt children.
Once he settled on the Broward College and Miami Dade College deans, the complaint states he provided his supposed Islamic State sources the target’s name, a photo of the Broward dean, and observations about campus security.
Representatives with Broward College did not immediately respond to requests to confirm when Rashid was a student or to comment on the charges.
Juan Mendieta, a spokesman for Miami Dade College, told The Washington Post in a statement Tuesday that the FBI notified the school of a threat to MDC’s Padrón Campus but that the threat was not ongoing.
“We have informed the campus community and used the opportunity to again remind employees and students to always remain alert and vigilant, and if they see or hear something, to say something,” Mendieta said.
Rashid is scheduled to appear in court again on Wednesday.