February 13, 2018 08:07 PM
Reports that the woman accused of starting fires in several buildings last month at St. Catherine University may have hidden out on campus prior to the incident has caused the school to seek an external assessment of its safety procedures.
An announcement on the school's website Tuesday said concerns over the activities of 19-year-old Tnuza Jamal Hassan prompted the decision.
"We know from our conversations with authorities that they have no evidence anyone else at St. Kate's is involved, nor is there a current threat to public safety," read the announcement, in part.
"However, we are concerned about the possibility that Hassan may have hidden on campus. As such, the University has secured external assistance to collect an accurate, unbiased assessment of our safety procedures. This assessment will be used to inform any procedural changes or updates that may be needed."
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota announced a three-count indictment last week against Hassan – a former student at St. Kate's – that includes charges of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, making a false statement, and arson.
Hassan, of Minneapolis, was arrested by FBI agents last Thursday at Ramsey County Jail, where she had been detained since she allegedly set the fires on Jan. 17, including one in a building that housed a day care center in which 33 kids and eight adults were present, court documents say.
At her arraignment Monday, she said she's not guilty when she appeared in front of federal judge Steven Rau.
Prosecutors told the judge not to allow Hassan to leave jail while she awaits trial, scheduled for April 16, because she's a danger to the community and a flight risk. Rau agreed and ordered her return to jail until her next hearing.
A court document filed last week points to evidence that Hassan tried to travel to Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 19 of last year to join al-Qaida and the "'Islamic Resistance,' which she defined as (al-Qaida) and the Taliban."
The memo says Hassan reached Dubai in that effort, but was prevented from traveling further because she lacked a visa.
Prior to that, the document alleges, she attempted to recruit two female classmates to join al-Qaida or other organizations. She initially denied, but later admitted, to authoring a recruitment letter in March 2017.
The document says she again tried to leave the country on Dec. 29, 2017, on a ticket to Ethiopia with her mother, though authorities prevented her from boarding the flight and her mother chose not to go.
Updated: February 13, 2018 08:07 PM
Created: February 13, 2018 03:42 PM
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