On August 26, 2020 the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs released the following information.
“Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Erica H. MacDonald today announced the guilty plea of Tnuza Jamal Hassan, 22, to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (al-Qa’ida). Hassan entered her guilty plea this morning before Judge Patrick J. Schiltz in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, in March of 2017, while a freshman student at St. Catherine University (SCU) in St. Paul, Minnesota, Hassan drafted a letter encouraging others to join a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely, al-Qa’ida (AQ), and anonymously delivered the letter to two other students at SCU for the purpose of recruiting those individuals to join AQ. During a subsequent interview with FBI agents, Hassan denied authoring or delivering the recruitment letter.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, on Sept. 18, 2017, Hassan purchased a round-trip airline ticket from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP) to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and purchased a second round-trip ticket from Dubai to Kabul, Afghanistan. Hassan later admitted that she planned to travel from Dubai to Kabul where she hoped to join AQ and that she had no intentions of returning to the United States. On Sept. 19, 2017, Hassan boarded a flight and traveled from MSP to Dubai, but was prevented from traveling to Kabul because she failed to secure a travel visa allowing her to enter the country.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, on Jan. 17, 2018, Hassan, who at that time was living in a SCU dorm lounge without the university’s permission, attempted to set several fires on the SCU campus. Hassan admitted that she attempted to burn SCU buildings as a retaliatory act against the United States for its opposition to AQ in Afghanistan.
Hassan has been charged in Ramsey County District Court with one count of first-degree arson.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force, St. Paul Police Department, and arson investigators from the St. Paul Fire Department.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Winter.”
A local CBS news agency reported on the incident in January 2019.
The fires were small and quickly contained. Nobody was injured and damage was limited to furnishings, the school said in a statement. A sprinkler system prevented the dormitory fire from spreading beyond a chair to the day care center, where 33 children and eight adults were present.
“Hassan said she wanted the school to burn to the ground and that her intent was to hurt people,” the complaint said. “Hassan said this was that same thing that happened in ‘Muslim land’ and nobody cares if they get hurt, so why not do this?”
Hassan, of Minneapolis, was an English major who last enrolled in the fall 2017 semester but is not currently enrolled, the school said. The complaint said she withdrew because she and her family were planning to vacation in Ethiopia.
The complaint also said she wrote a letter to her roommates containing “radical ideas about supporting Muslims and bringing back the caliphate.” It said the letter scared the roommates, who turned the letter over to campus security.
“She told the police and fire investigators ‘You guys are lucky that I don’t know how to build a bomb because I would have done that,’” the complaint said.