Woman Accused of St. Kate's Arson Now Facing Federal Terrorism Charge

February 07, 2018 10:11 PM

The United States Attorney's Office in Minnesota announced Wednesday that the 19-year-old woman accused of starting fires in several different buildings last month on the campus of St. Catherine University in St. Paul is now facing federal charges, including attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Those charges stem from an incident federal authorities claim happened in March of last year when she is alleged to have attempted to recruit two fellow St. Kate's students to "join the jihad in fighting."


RELATED: Sources: FBI Investigating Woman Charged with Arson at St. Catherine

According to a release, U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Brooker announced a three-count indictment against Tnuza Jamal Hassan. In addition to the terrorism charge, Hassan was also charged with making a false statement and arson.

The release states that in an interview with FBI agents last September, Hassan was asked if she authored and delivered a letter to her two fellow St. Kate's students in March. The letter allegedly sought to encourage fellow students to "join the jihad in fighting" and to "(j)oin Al Qaeda, Taliban, or Al Shabaab."

The release states authorities claim Hassan made a false statement when she told agents she did not write the letter, did not know who wrote it and did not know how it came to be delivered.

The indictment alleges she did, in fact, write and deliver the letter.

Students at St. Catherine told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they were following what happened with Hassan's case, and were somewhat surprised to hear about the federal indictment.

"I never expected it," student Laura Way said. "She was a first-year student, too, and that is especially scary."

"I definitely never thought that would happen," added student Allison Monahan. 

"St. Kate's is one of the most inclusive, diverse welcoming schools you can think of."

And student Jerica Presbitero said: "We take pride in the safety of our school, so this was very surprising and we have a very diverse school that welcomes everyone. And to have this happen is not really expected."

KSTP went to the address listed for Hassan in the criminal complaint, located on the 2900 block of 9th Street South in Minneapolis. But no one answered the door.

Attempts to reach Hassan's attorney, Patrick Nwaneri, were also unsuccessful.

RELATED: Suspect Identified Following Multiple Fires on St. Catherine Campus

Hassan, a former St. Catherine student, was charged with first-degree arson in Ramsey County last month in connection to the fires on campus. She is currently in custody in the Ramsey County Jail.

According to the criminal complaint, investigators allege Hassan told them "she wanted the school to burn to the ground and her intent was to hurt people."  Investigators said there were 33 children and eight adults at a daycare inside one of the buildings where a fire was intentionally set.

RELATED: St. Catherine's says Arsonist Responsible for Multiple Fires on Campus; Former Student In Custody

The criminal complaint includes another statement from Hassan that alleges she said she started the fires because "this was the same thing that happened in 'Muslim land' and nobody cares if they got hurt."

Investigators claim Hassan also said, "You guys are lucky that I don't know how to build a bomb, because I would have done that."


KSTP/Jay Kolls

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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