ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The suspect in a series of arson fires last month on the St. Catherine's campus attempted to travel and join al-Quaeda in Afghanistan after being "self-radicalized," according to court documents filed Monday.
Now, federal prosecutors are asking that Tnuza Jamal Hassan be detained until her trial is complete due to her status as an "extraordinary danger to the community" and a "significant flight risk," the documents say.
U.S. Magistrate Steven Rau granted the detention order Monday, despite arguments from Hassan's lawyer that she was "unsophisticated."
The former St. Catherine's student was charged last week with supporting a terrorist organization in relation to a Sept. 19 letter asking fellow students to "join the jihad in fighting," and to "[j]oin al-Qaeda, Taliban, or Al Shabaab," according to a release. FBI Investigators say she subsequently denied having anything to do with the letter in an interview, and was later charged with making a false statement to federal agents. She pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday.
A series of nine fires around the St. Catherine's campus on Jan. 17 was allegedly traced back to the 19-year-old. No one was hurt, though one of the fires took place in a dormitory that houses a day care with more than 30 children inside.
"She’s been reading about the U.S. military destroying schools in Iraq or Afghanistan and she felt that she should do exactly the same thing," according to her criminal complaint. "She wanted to burn the school to the ground and her intent was to hurt people.”
Prosecutors also note that Hassan's family reported her as a missing person at least twice over five months before she was arrested, once when she attempted to travel to Afghanistan and another time after she reportedly set several fires on campus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.