A federal judge in Orlando said Monday that there’s enough evidence to move forward with a trial against a former Florida of Insitute of Technology student facing weapons charges and accused of being in the U.S. illegally.
However, not everyone agrees with the judge’s decision.
Hamid Mohamed Ahmed Ali Rehaif, 25, who prosecutors say is undocumented, is at the center of an investigation for illegally having ammunition. Rehaif, from Dubai, was arrested last week in Brevard County.
Three women who say they're related to Rehaif, who would not give their name, said he is far from dangerous.
“He’s a teddy bear. A huggable teddy bear,” said one of the women, who questioned the timing of Rehaif's arrest and thinks the recent attack in San Bernardino, Calif. played a role in his arrest.
"What is happening to him is very unjust and we feel like he is being targeted because of his race," another woman said. "All we want the public to know is that he has a lot friends and family that are in full support of him, and we will continue to support him until this all is completed."
Prosecutors say Rehaif should have left the country last December, when his student visa expired because of academic dismissal from FIT. Investigators say he was living in a Melbourne hotel for the past two months, checking in and out daily and paying more than $11,000 in cash for a room.
A criminal complaint said Rehaif had a number of ammunition rounds in his hotel room and at a separate storage unit. At one point, he owned 10 cell phones but pawned eight of them, it said.
During the hearing, a Department of Homeland Security agent was asked whether Rehaif had ties to any radical terrorist groups. The agent said they have found no ties at the moment but that the investigation was still ongoing.
The women who say they're related to Rehaif think everything will be cleared in his favor.
“I think they have a lot bigger fish to fry, and they’ll find soon he is not one of them,” one of the women said.
The judge ruled for Rehaif to remain at the Seminole County Jail as he awaits trial.
Hamid Mohamed Ahmed Ali Rehaif (U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida)