Report: FBI was tipped off about Fargo cop killer two years before incident

FARGO, ND - According to an exclusive report from the Daily Mail, the FBI was tipped off about the man responsible for the death of a Fargo, North Dakota police officer in July two years before that incident.

The Mail writes that Mohamad Barakat, 37, was initially identified in 2021 as planning to execute a mass casualty attack in Fargo.

On July 14 of this year, Fargo police were investigating a traffic stop when Barakat opened fire with an AK-47, killing 23-year-old rookie police officer Jake Wallin. Fargo officer Zach Robinson eventually killed Barakat.

Officials say Barakat was headed to the city center in Fargo with plans to carry out an attack that state officials said “would have been so deadly, there would not have been enough emergency personnel within three states to respond to it adequately,” the Mail wrote.

Barakat arrived in the United States in 2012 as an asylum seeker from Syria. He became a naturalized citizen in 2019. 

Police said that Barakat had over 1,800 rounds of ammunition, explosives, gas, propane tanks, and a grenade in planning his attack.

Barakat first came to the attention of law enforcement officials in 2021, when the FBI was tipped off that Barakat had acquired a substantial sum of weapons, the Daily Mail said. The outlet had inquired whether Barakat was on any watch list or known to law enforcement officials.

Instead of investigating Barakat, the FBI turned the information over to the Fargo Police Department, leading to three visits to his home by officers in 2021.

Barakat told officers that despite having a large cache of weapons, he had “no ill intentions.” The matter was dropped.

“During this visit, FPD detectives observed that Barakat had several firearms in the apartment; however, none were illegal. Barakat was not prohibited from acquiring or possessing guns,” police wrote.

Meanwhile, the FBI issued the following statement, “The FBI takes all tips and concerns brought to its attention seriously, especially concerning potential threats to public safety and well-being. As there was no evidence of any ongoing illegal activities or indications of an imminent threat, it was determined that no further action could be taken.”

Fargo police say there was no evidence Barakat was a religious fanatic and believe he was “motivated purely by hate and fascinated by mass shootings.”

The FBI’s statement may surprise a bipartisan US Senate panel, which this week criticized the agency and the Department of Homeland Security for the handling online threats related to the January 6 US Capitol siege.

According to that report, neither agency planned for the incident despite some “social media posts call[ed] for violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6,” Newsweek reported.

The previous tip is reminiscent of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter in Parkland, Florida, Nikolas Cruz. In January 2018, the FBI received a tip from a close associate of Cruz warning about him.

The FBI admitted the office was contacted on January 5, 2018, by an anonymous tipster who “provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”

Just one month later, Cruz executed his plan, killing 17 people, including students and teachers at the high school.

Likewise, in 2021, the DOJ slammed the FBI for its handling of sex abuse allegations against Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics doctor, who was accused of sexual abuse by over 100 female gymnasts.

In the case of Barakat, one day before his planned mass killing, he went to Google and searched for “area events where there are crowds,” leading him to an article about the Downtown Fargo Street Fair. He also searched for “explosive ammo,” “incendiary rounds,” and “mass shooter events.”

During the two-minute incident with Fargo police, Barakat killed Wallin, an Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran who had only served the city as an officer for three months. Two other officers, Andrew Dotas and Tyler Hawes, were critically injured before Robinson took out Barakat, who was shot 31 times. Despite being hit numerous times, Barakat continued trying to get his weapon until Robinson finally took him out.

Police recovered the AK-47, three cans of gasoline, and two propane tanks filled with Tannerite, a highly explosive material.

The incident began when two unrelated vehicles were involved in an accident. Barakat, who parked nearby, opened fire on officers as they arrived on the scene. Wallin was the first officer shot, unable to remove his service weapon before being mortally wounded. Dawes and Dotas were hit multiple times and continue to recover from their wounds.

Robinson received high praise from both North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley and Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski, who commended his composure and following his training during the shootout.
“A very chaotic situation and very tremendous job on his part,” Zibolski said of Robinson.

Wrigley told reporters he believed Barakat may have been on the “FBI Guardian List.” That list allows federal and state law enforcement officials to report terror suspects to the FBI and monitor if that particular individual was under investigation. Thus far, the FBI has not confirmed whether Barakat was on such a list.

In speaking to Robinson, Wrigley said his use of deadly force “was reasonable, it was necessary, it was justified, and in all ways, it was lawful.” Robinson was initially put on administrative leave after the shooting, which is standard procedure. Since the department found no policy violations in his response, he has been reinstated to active duty.

The incident remains under investigation. Wrigley said that Fargo investigators are waiting for information from the FBI and a forensic analysis of Barakat’s weapons to ensure they are not connected to other illegal activity.
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