Florida man accused of trying to recruit ISIS to bomb deans from Miami-area colleges

A Florida man faces federal charges after allegedly trying to contact the Islamic State to recruit someone to carry out a terrorist attack on the deans of two Miami-area colleges after he was expelled by one and suspended by another, officials said in a press release Monday.

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Salman Rashid, 23, of North Miami Beach, was arrested Friday and charged with soliciting another person to commit a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida. An FBI investigation revealed that Rashid asked an undercover FBI agent posing as a member of ISIS to bomb two unnamed deans at Miami Dade College and Broward College where he experienced “perceived attacks on Muslims,” according to prosecutors.

The FBI began to investigate Rashid in April 2018 after finding public Facebook posts in which he advocated for “the violent overthrow of democracy” and the “establishment of Islamic law,” the press release said.

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A female student at Miami Dade College reported to authorities in November 2018 that Rashid, while a student there, had sent her threatening messages and had been stalking her, the New York Times reported, citing court documents. He was expelled from the school the next month. Rashid was later suspended from Broward College for failing to disclose the disciplinary matter at Miami Dade.

In May 2019, Rashid contacted an undercover FBI agent for help getting in touch with members of ISIS who were willing to carry out a terrorist attack on his behalf, according to the district attorney’s office. The two allegedly continued to exchange messages throughout the summer and fall of 2019 about the details of the attack. Rashid indicated an attack on “a religious building” or “nightclub” would be suitable.

At that point, the undercover agent introduced Rashid to a second FBI source posing as a member of ISIS. Around Nov. 8-9, Rashid allegedly told that agent that he decided to target a dean at Miami-Dade College and a dean at Broward College. He also asked the supposed ISIS member to make the bombs “as big as possible” and gave information about where to place the explosives based on his own assessment of security that might be present on the campuses, the press release said.

Miami Dade College said on Monday that the school had been “notified by the F.B.I. that they had eliminated a threat involving a former student at the Padrón Campus.”

“At this time, the F.B.I. has advised us that there is no additional threat or need for heightened security,” Miami Dade College said in a statement to the Times. “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.”

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Rashid could face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris M. McAliley on Monday. His pretrial detention hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. He is expected to be arraigned on Dec. 9.