A Ghanaian who was arrested in April after telling his date that he was a terrorist and would blow up her University of Massachusetts dormitory pleaded guilty on Monday to a single charge of threatening to commit a crime.
Abdul F. Ismail entered the plea in Eastern Hampshire Court, admitting to his role in the April 11 incident.
He avoided any jail time as Judge Thomas Estes placed his conviction “on file” for the next 12 months, meaning no sentence will be imposed if he stays out of trouble over that time.
However, Ismail was taken into custody by United State Immigration and Customs Enforcement shortly after the end of the court proceedings, according to Mary Carey, communications director for Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan.
Ismail, 27, has been in the United States since 2013.
He came here from Ghana to seek asylum. His lawyer told the court that prior to his arrest, Ismail was due to have an immigration hearing about being granted permanent resident status next March.
He was arrested after a woman that he had been briefly been dating reported him to police after their second date. The two had met through the online dating application Tender.
The woman, a UMass student, told police that he came to her dorm room in Butterfield Hall, and asked her to print out a document on the recent bombings in Syria.
When the woman said she was uncomfortable doing so, he reportedly said “I’m a terrorist” and that he planned to blow up the dorm.
His lawyer, Alan Rubin, told the court that Ismail was only joking and that there was no evidence that he intended to carry out the crime.
UMass police testified that the comment troubled the woman enough to where she ended their date, escorted him from the building, and then called the police.
She was also so shaken the university had to find new accommodations for her because she refused to stay in her dorm room.
Cop testifies that Abdul F. Ismail threatened to blow up UMass dorm
Ismail was accused of making threats to blow up a dorm while visiting a student at the University of Massachusetts on April 11 told his date, “I’m a terrorist,” according to testimony from a UMass police officer during a dangerousness hearing Tuesday in Eastern Hampshire District Court.
Judge Patricia Poehler ordered that Abdul F. Ismail, 27, continue to be held without the right to bail. Ismail is charged with making a bomb threat and threatening to commit a crime when he was visiting a woman at the Coolidge residence hall.
Poehler made the decision to keep him held following an approximately hour-long hearing during which she listened to the 911 call to UMass police that was made after the alleged threat.
Multiple agencies are investigating, according to Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Andrew Covington.
Ismail was on campus to meet the woman who reported the threats, according to UMass Police officer Alexandra Wysocki, one of two officers who provided testimony. He and the woman met on the dating website Tinder. It was their second date.
Wysocki said that the student told her that Ismail asked to use her computer because he wanted to print out a letter on the recent bombings in Syria.
Wysocki testified that the student said she was uncomfortable with the request and refused. Ismail told her, “I’m a terrorist,” and she became frightened. She asked if he was kidding, and “his demeanor did not change,” Wysocki said.
Then he said the student was going to be his first victim and that he was going to blow up the dorm, Wysocki said.
The officer testified that the student asked if Ismail was kidding, and told police that Ismail was laughing.
Wysocki said the woman walked Ismail out of the building to make sure he was gone and then called police. She was too frightened to stay in the dorm and other housing was found for her that night, Wysocki said.
Ismail’s attorney, Alan Rubin, argued that the police report lacked detail and was based on hearsay.
“There’s not a thread of evidence that (Ismail) was doing anything wrong. That he was a terrorist,” Rubin said.
He said the court had to be “very, very careful about overreaction.”
The defense lawyer said at the worst, the statements the woman made “were exaggerated. It was misunderstood.”
But Poehler in her ruling said she believes Ismail poses a danger and she could not allow any conditions for his release.
Ismail came to the United States in 2013 seeking asylum from Ghana, and immigration officials found that the claim of asylum was legitimate, Rubin said. Covington said deportation proceedings have begun, but Rubin explained the deportation proceedings are part of the process of seeking asylum.
Ismail was supposed to have an immigration hearing in March 2018 and is hoping to obtain a green card, Rubin said. But the “reaction to this could changes things,” the attorney said, referring to the charges.