May 23, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15-cr-286-l -
John Robert Blakey, Judge.
Bauer, Manion, and Brennan, Circuit Judges.
Brennan, Circuit Judge
platforms unleash instant and limitless capabilities; at the
tap of a finger, one can touch the world. That power and
freedom enables many noble pursuits. But, as this case shows,
underneath the promise of modern connectivity can lurk a dark
seven-week span, Mohammad Khan used Face-book and his job as
an Uber driver to threaten and prepare for mass murder. He
posted messages threatening to "kill,"
"shoot," "hunt," "murder," and
"put bullets in" his "targets."
Khan's "targets" included "college
student[s]," "vulnerable individuals," people
"walking their dogs," "high net worth
individuals]," and "witnesses" that "get
[in] the way." He aimed for "a real human
tragedy" and "claimfed] the loop area of Chicago to
the Northern Lincoln Park area" as his "free kill
zone." Worse, Khan planned to "purchase a [G]o[P]ro
camera, strap it to [his] chest or forehead, record the
killings, and upload them onto Facebook for everyone around
the world to see the grisly footage of death."
also drove for Uber. He posted messages about "dry
run[s]" and carrying a loaded gun during shifts to
prepare for "necessary murders"-in fact, several of
his threatening posts occurred immediately before and after
driving passengers. To add credence to his threats, Khan
boasted his "mental fortitude to pull it off,"
posted photos of himself holding the guns he would use, and
"swfore] to Allah and everything I hold dear that I will
resort to murder in the next 30 days." That thirty-day
deadline corresponded with the date Khan was to fly to
used Facebook to draw the public into his world; instead he
drew the attention of the FBI. His words and actions resulted
in an indictment for making interstate threats to injure
others, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). At trial,
Khan claimed his statements were not "true
threats." A jury disagreed and convicted him.
challenges his conviction, arguing that the government's
indictment and evidence against him were insufficient. He
also challenges the jury instructions for the § 875(c)
charge and the district court's refusal to suppress all
evidence leading to his arrest. Neither challenge is
persuasive, so we affirm.
prompted Khan's graphic posts? Three sources stand out.
First, a pedestrian sued Khan and Uber after a traffic
accident. Khan construed the lawsuit and related insurance
claims process as "senseless provocations." Second,
he believed "noise pollution around [his] house" to
be "organized persecution," for which he promised
murder in retaliation. Third, for unstated reasons, he
believed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel "doomed Chicago to
an early grave." For that, Khan called Emanuel a
"rabid dog" who "shall be taught a lesson [he]
will not forget."
Facebook posts at issue began in late March 2015 and ended
about two months later with Khan's arrest. These
• April 5: "[I]f there are any more
senseless provocations committed against me or my family, I
will purchase a [G]o[P]ro camera, strap it to my chest or
forehead, record the killings, and upload them onto Facebook
for everyone around the world to see the grisly footage of
death with their own eyes."
• April 9: "If these provocations do not
cease right away I will head out to Chicago with my fourth
generation Glock 19 and start hunting. I'm claiming the
loop area of Chicago to the northern Lincoln Park area where
the students be as free fire zones if push comes to shove. A
free fire zone and a free kill zone as well, because as
I've stated in earlier contexts I will be aiming for the
posterior part of the cranium."
• April 14: "Keep pushing me and it
won't end well for a trucker on the road. I'll pull
out my glock and shoot him on the highway, causing a massive
pileup with many potential fatalities. ... Be careful."
• April 17: "I've given plenty of
warnings ... and this kind of stuff tends to happen suddenly.
I'm already carrying my gun with me to work and let me be
frank here I see a great deal of vulnerable individuals, for
example walking their dogs and whatnot."
• May 2 (Post 1): "There will be blood
running in the streets of Chicago as I had stated. In the
next 30 days, I will undertake the necessary murders. ... I
swear to Allah and everything I hold dear that I will resort
to murder in the next 30 days."
• May 2 (Post 2): "It's not easy to
kill. It takes mental fortitude to pull it off. I take this
as a personal challenge ... I'm gona try to empty out as
much of the clip on the victim in a 5 second window as
• May 3: "The ... deadline I have set is
not written in stone. If I see vulnerabilities, any at all, I
will exploit them immediately. Murder is in the air on the
streets of Chicago. I can't control my 9
• May 7 (Post 1): "Tonight is promising to
be a murderous night!"
• May 7 (Post 2): "Alrighttt... I'm
goin hunting tonite baby!"
• May 7 (Post 3): "If I see a high value
target Ima exploit it. I'm not killin sum bum on the
street. I want a high net worth individual to shoot. I want
this to be a real human tragedy. Much mourned. I have a
month. Ima hunt aggressively tonight. Keep an eye out for
ideal victims. If I don't catch nobody tonite then
• May 8: "Good dry run tonight. Saw a
couple of excellent targets. The key is right approach and
timing. There were many potential witnesses because it was a
college student night. Inshallah the deed will be done well
before the deadline I have set. ... When I have said
something, it means I will do it. The rest is opportune
• May 14: "The gun is cocked and ready to
go. ... Now I'm gona get my revenge, and that involves
putting bullets in someone's body, so get out of the way
or I'll literally shoot at them as well and we'll end
up with a much bigger scenario on our hands. I'm not
leaving America without getting revenge even if it costs me
my life. And that's that."
sent the third May 7 post about hunting for "ideal
victims" one minute before he picked up an Uber
passenger. The May 8 post about a "dry run" was
sent three minutes after he dropped off another Uber
passenger. Khan's Facebook page also included several
photos of guns and ammunition ...