A Maryland computer developer shared extremist propaganda with young students at a D.C. Islamic organization while engaging one in sexual conversations, according to prosecutors in Alexandria federal court.
Seitu Kokayi, 29, a District native, is charged only with coercion and enticement of a minor after exchanging sexual messages with a 15-year-girl. But prosecutors highlighted his interest in Islamic extremists while successfully arguing that he should remain incarcerated until his trial in April.
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema said in court Friday her concern over that radical interest was part of why she was keeping Kokayi in jail. She also ruled that statements he made to the FBI after his arrest in August can be used against him at trial.
Kokayi, a married father, had worked as an IT content developer for the University of Maryland University College and taught the Koran on weekends to children ages 5 to 16 at the First Hijrah Foundation in the District, according to court filings. He no longer has either job, the documents state.
According to court documents, he told the FBI he expressed romantic feelings with one 15-year-old girl and began having sexual conversations with her over iPhone FaceTime. It was a “humongous mistake,” he told the agents, and a “bad choice.” Kokayi is accused of sending pornographic video to the girl but not of receiving any in return.
In arguing for his release Friday, Kokayi’s defense attorneys noted that no other alleged victims have been identified. But prosecutors produced evidence that Kokayi had been sharing extremist Islamic propaganda with the 15-year-old and other underage girls, including lectures by the deceased al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki. He discussed religious martyrdom with one underage girl, according to prosecutors, and sent her a video called “The Role of Muslim Women,” which features female militants with automatic weapons.
Another teacher told FBI agents that Kokayi expressed interest in joining Islamic fighters overseas. A student told them he took students to play paintball in Virginia and insisted she join, saying she should learn to fight because “it could be important someday.” A decade ago, Brinkema oversaw a case involving men who trained for jihad by playing paintball in Virginia.
Kokayi’s mother is married to Abdullah el-Faisal, according to court documents, a Jamaican extremist facing terrorism charges in New York. Defense attorneys said the couple are divorcing and have not spoken to each other in a year, but according to prosecutors, Kokayi sent Faisal’s lectures to students as well.
Kokayi’s case gained national attention after a prosecutor’s copy-and-paste error in a filing inadvertently revealed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal. However, officials say the two cases are not connected.