A suburban man caught as a teenager trying to slip overseas from O’Hare with his two siblings found himself back in a federal courtroom Thursday where a judge threatened to lock him up all over again.
Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 22, admitted in 2015 he tried to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State, and U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp later sentenced him to more than three years behind bars. He was released in September, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Once out of prison, Khan was supposed to seek permission to have any Internet-accessible devices. But following the filing of a sealed probation report Monday, Khan wound up Thursday back in Tharp’s courtroom, where a prosecutor said Khan had been caught with a laptop and smartphone authorities didn’t know about, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Driscoll said a forensic review has yet to show whether Khan was up to something nefarious. A probation official said it appears Khan mostly used the devices for social media and dating apps. Driscoll said Khan at one point only produced a phone to officials after being threatened with a search.
Driscoll said Khan is now in college and doing extremely well. Khan’s defense attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin, said Khan is getting straight A’s. Driscoll suggested putting Khan in jail between the spring and fall semester. Durkin said that would go too far.
“It’s clear he’s not the same person you sentenced,” Durkin told the judge. “Does he still have some rocks in his head? Perhaps.”
Tharp put the issue on hold until mid-April so the forensic review of Khan’s devices could be finished. But he warned Khan that a warrant had been sought for his arrest, and the judge said he would issue one upon hearing of the “slightest infraction.”
“I don’t want there to be any confusion about that,” Tharp said.