- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota man charged with threatening to “shoot up” a drugstore pleaded guilty Wednesday to lying to the FBI about when he last contacted the Islamic State group in a separate case.

Abdul Raheem Habil Ali-Skelton, 23, of Glencoe, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to one count of making a false statement to FBI agents. He faces up to eight years in prison. A sentencing date was not set.

Federal prosecutors say Ali-Skelton told the FBI in July that his last contact with Syrian-based members of the Islamic State group was in May or early June 2015. But prosecutors say Ali-Skelton knew he had communicated with members of the group as recently as July 4.

Last month, Ali-Skelton was charged in state court after threatening a Walgreens in a Minneapolis suburb and saying he was “part of a terrorist organization,” according to Hennepin County court documents.

According to a complaint, Ali-Skelton went into the store in Brooklyn Park early on March 27 and accused a customer of having a relationship with his girlfriend. The complaint said Ali-Skelton then advanced on the man multiple times and threatened to hit him with a bottle.

A store manager intervened and told the two to leave. Ali-Skelton said he had a gun and would “shoot up the place,” according to the complaint. He also said he was part of a terrorist organization and that he would “blow up” the store, the complaint said.

Ali-Skelton later admitted to officers that he made the threats to shoot up the store but did not remember referring to a terror organization or saying he would blow up the Walgreens. He pleaded guilty Monday in Hennepin County to making terroristic threats in that incident and was released from custody pending sentencing on June 30.

After his guilty plea in federal court Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ordered Ali-Skelton into federal custody, saying he wanted to ensure the safety of the community, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1SBTGYo ) reported. His attorney in the federal case, Robert Richman, had asked that Ali-Skelton be placed in a halfway house and receive drug and alcohol treatment. Richman said Ali-Skelton’s actions at the Walgreens amounted to “a drunken rant.”

“I liken this to cases after (9/11) when airport security was at an all-time high and some misguided people thought it would be funny to say they had a bomb in their bag,” Richman said. “They may have proved themselves to be idiots but they did not prove themselves to be dangerous.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Kovats said the Walgreens incident was a “sea-change event” and that Ali-Skelton otherwise might have been eligible for release before sentencing.

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