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Judge detains man who allegedly threatened Chicago abortion clinic

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox said the conflicting personas of Farhan Sheikh suggest he might be unstable. “I can’t afford to be wrong,” she said.

Elias Quinones Figueroa faces federal charges in connection to a May 27, 2020, carjacking in West Town.
Dirksen Federal Courthouse

A federal judge ordered a 19-year-old North Side man held in custody Tuesday for allegedly making a specific threat to attack a Chicago abortion clinic, despite his apparent reputation in the community as a loving and caring person.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Cox said the conflicting personas of Farhan Sheikh suggest he might be unstable.

“I can’t afford to be wrong,” Cox said.

Sheikh is accused of posting the threat on the meme website and app iFunny. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Matthews sought his detention Tuesday, explaining that iFunny had actually removed the threat, prompting Sheikh to post it again.

The prosecutor said Sheikh also made other inflammatory comments on the website that suggested threats not only toward himself, but toward BuzzFeed. Sheikh’s lawyer, Amanda Penabad, asked the judge to release Sheikh to his father’s custody with a restriction on social media use. She noted the lack of weapons in his home.

“If there had been guns in the house, we would have been done with this hearing 20 minutes ago,” Cox replied.

In the end, the judge pointed to the “deeply disturbing” contradiction between Sheikh’s online persona and written comments from community members that painted a positive portrait of Sheikh.

When the FBI confronted Sheikh about his comments, he referred to them as a “joke.” His comments, filled with typos and grammatical errors, appear in a 12-page criminal complaint. The name of the clinic has been redacted.

“I am done with my state and their bullsh-- abortion laws and allowing innocent kids to be slaughtered for the so called ‘womans right’ bullsh--,” Sheikh allegedly wrote last week. “Ive seen nothing but whores go out of the way to get an abortion, but no more. I will not tolerate this anymore. Im DONE. On August 23rd 2019, I will go to the (clinic) in Chicago . . . I will proceed to slaughter and murder any doctor, patient, or visitor i see in the area and I will not back down. consider this a warning for anyone visiting . . . .”

He allegedly added: “To all the fbi agents in this app, I am NOT a satirical account. I post what I mean, and i WILL carry out what I post.”