Min­nesota mosque fire­bombed, FBI seek­ing sus­pects

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

BLOOMINGTON, Min­nesota: FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors are seek­ing sus­pects after an ex­plo­sive de­vice tore through part of a sub­ur­ban Min­neapo­lis mosque as peo­ple were pre­par­ing for morn­ing prayers, dam­ag­ing a room but not caus­ing any in­juries, author­i­ties and wit­nesses said. The blast hap­pened at around 5 a.m. Satur­day at the Dar Al-Fa­rooq Is­lamic Cen­ter in Bloomington, ac­cord­ing to Bloomington Po­lice Chief Jeff Potts. Win­dows of the imam’s of­fice were shat­tered, ei­ther by the blast or by an ob­ject thrown through them, the Min­neapo­lis Star Tri­bune re­ported.

One wor­ship­per saw a pickup truck speed­ing away shortly after the ex­plo­sion, said Mo­hamed Omar, the cen­ter’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. He said the mosque, which pri­mar­ily serves peo­ple from the area’s large So­mali com­mu­nity, oc­ca­sion­ally re­ceives threat­en­ing calls and emails. “We came to this coun­try for the same rea­son ev­ery­one else came here: free­dom to wor­ship,” Yasir Ab­dal­rah­man, a wor­ship­per at the mosque, told the news­pa­per. “And that free­dom is un­der threat. Ev­ery other Amer­i­can should be in­sulted by this.”

Asad Za­man, di­rec­tor of the Mus­lim Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Min­nesota, de­scribed the at­tack as a fire­bomb­ing. In­ves­ti­ga­tors will try to de­ter­mine whether the in­ci­dent was a hate crime and who may have been be­hind it, ac­cord­ing to Richard Thorn­ton, spe­cial agent in charge of the FBI’s Min­neapo­lis Di­vi­sion. Thorn­ton said dur­ing an af­ter­noon news con­fer­ence that the ex­plo­sion was caused by an “im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice” and that in­ves­ti­ga­tors have re­cov­ered com­po­nents of the de­vice to fig­ure out how it was put to­gether.

But he didn’t take ques­tions and de­clined to pro­vide de­tails about the de­vice, cit­ing the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which is be­ing led by the FBI.

Satur­day’s bomb­ing comes amid a rise in re­ports of anti-Mus­lim in­ci­dents in the US, in­clud­ing ar­son at­tacks and van­dal­ism at mosques, ha­rass­ment of women wear­ing Mus­lim head cov­er­ings and bul­ly­ing of Mus­lim school­child­ren. Just re­cently in Min­nesota, an Is­lamic ceme­tery in Cas­tle Rock Town­ship re­ported it had been van­dal­ized with spray painted pro­fan­i­ties and swastikas.

The mosque in Bloomington, just south of Min­neapo­lis, serves as a re­li­gious cen­ter and com­mu­nity or­ga­niz­ing plat­form for Mus­lim ac­tivists and lead­ers in the area, ac­cord­ing to the so­ci­ety. The group is of­fer­ing a $10,000 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion that leads to an ar­rest or con­vic­tion. A $10,000 re­ward also is be­ing of­fered by the Min­nesota chap­ter of the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Re­la­tions, or CAIR. The group said its na­tional of­fice is urg­ing Is­lamic cen­ters and mosques to step up se­cu­rity.

“If a bias mo­tive is proven, this at­tack would rep­re­sent an­other in a long list of hate in­ci­dents tar­get­ing Is­lamic in­sti­tu­tions na­tion­wide in re­cent months,” said Amir Ma­lik, the lo­cal chap­ter’s civil rights di­rec­tor. Along with a mosque, the build­ing houses a com­mu­nity cen­ter that hosts com­puter classes, a bas­ket­ball league, re­li­gious classes, lec­tures and other events. Min­nesota is home to the largest So­mali com­mu­nity in the US, roughly 57,000 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est cen­sus fig­ures. The im­mi­grants have been com­ing to Min­nesota from their war-torn home­land since the 1990s, drawn by gen­er­ous so­cial ser­vices and the sense of com­mu­nity among the di­as­pora.

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