Saudi student in alleged ‘kill list’ plot ordered held
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Saudi Arabian student who prosecutors say illegally obtained a gun in the U.S. and told someone he wanted to kill a professor and others was ordered Tuesday held until his trial on a federal gun charge.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing ruled Tuesday that Hassan Alqahtani posed a danger and should be kept in federal custody after she heard allegations of domestic violence and threats reportedly made to others.
Witnesses told investigators that the Alqahtani, 27, had physically attacked his wife, an American citizen, and threatened a girlfriend who he was dating while married.
Federal prosecutor George Kraehe told Fashing at a detention hearing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that his wife’s family reported allegations of domestic violence and the mother of a girlfriend told FBI agents her daughter was scared Alqahtani might attack her.
Kraehe said Alqahtani reportedly held a gun to a girlfriend’s head and threatened to kill her.
“Mr. Alqahtani has engaged in threatening and violent behavior,” Kraehe said. “What we have here is an unstable person.”
But Joel Meyers, one of Alqahtani’s attorneys, said federal prosecutors’ case was based on “flamboyant allegations” and flimsy evidence because it’s not known if Alqahtani owned the gun found at his Albuquerque, New Mexico, home.
“This case has been inundated with innuendos,” Meyers said.
Prosecutors said Alqahtani illegally purchased a gun as a non-immigrant student visa holder. A tipster told the FBI that Alqahtani had what was described as a “kill list” that included a university professor, a former roommate and a person he previously fought. Alqahtani was studying mechanical engineering at the University of New Mexico.
Alqahtani was arrested Friday and missed his scheduled graduation ceremony on Saturday because he was in custody. However, Meyers said Tuesday that Alqahtani did officially graduate and wants to remain in the U.S.
During the detention hearing, FBI Special Agent Jonathan Labuhn testified that informants told authorities they saw Alqahtani with a gun on a number of occasions and even went practice shooting.
Labuhn said Alqahtani told one person he was a member of the Taliban and another that if the gun was found, he’d say it belonged to his wife.