Ex-con said to con­fess to mosque fire in Fla.

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND NATION & WORLD - By Terry Spencer and Josh Replogle

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — An ex-con­vict who posted anti-Is­lamic rants on­line con­fessed to set­ting fire to a mosque that the Or­lando, Fla., night­club shooter oc­ca­sion­ally at­tended, and said he was em­bar­rassed by the crime, ac­cord­ing to an ar­rest af­fi­davit re­leased Thurs­day.

St. Lu­cie County sher­iff ’s de­tec­tives wrote in the af­fi­davit that af­ter Joseph Schreiber was ar­rested Wed­nes­day, he told de­tec­tives that he had set the fire at the Is­lamic Cen­ter of Fort Pierce on Sun­day, the 15th an­niver­sary of the Sept. 11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. The blaze also co­in­cided with the Mus­lim hol­i­day Eid al-Adha.

Schreiber, 32, told de­tec­tives he never in­tended to hurt any­one. No one was in­jured in the fire, which burned a hole in the roof at the back of the mosque’s main building and black­ened its eaves with soot.

Schreiber, who pre­vi­ously served two prison terms for theft, be­came a sus­pect af­ter a tip from the pub­lic, the af­fi­davit said.

He was ar­rested Wed­nes­day and charged with sec­ond-de­gree ar­son with a hate crime en­hance­ment, a crime that car­ries a max­i­mum 30year sen­tence.

St. Lu­cie County Judge Philip Yacucci or­dered Schreiber held with­out bail Thurs­day, call­ing him a dan­ger to the com­mu­nity and a flight risk. He also noted that Schreiber had made anti-Is­lamic posts on so­cial me­dia.

Last July, Schreiber, who is Jewish, posted on Face­book that “All Is­lam is radical” and that all Mus­lims should be treated as ter­ror­ists and crim­i­nals.

Wil­fredo Amr Ruiz, a spokesman for the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Re­la­tions-Florida, said Schreiber “ob­vi­ously doesn’t know about the ef­forts our com­mu­nity is en­gaged in with our cousins, the Jews, not only i n Florida but through­out the na­tion.”

He crit­i­cized Gov. Rick Scott and other politi­cians who failed to speak out af­ter the fire and de­nounce what he called “ter­ror­ism.”

“We are cer­tainly miss­ing our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers who are prob­a­bly too busy cam­paign­ing now to do a min­i­mum ex­pres­sion of sol­i­dar­ity” with Florida’s Mus­lims, Ruiz said. “Cer­tainly our gover­nor is miss­ing from this.”

Scott’s of­fice is­sued a brief state­ment in re­sponse late Thurs­day say­ing only, “Lo­cal law en­force­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing and the state stands ready to as­sist in their ef­forts in any way.”

Ma­teen was killed by po­lice af­ter open­ing fire at the Pulse night­club June 12 in a ram­page that left 49 vic­tims dead and 53 wounded, mak­ing it the worst mass shoot­ing in mod­ern U.S. his­tory. Ma­teen pro­fessed al­le­giance to the Is­lamic State group. His fa­ther is among roughly 100 peo­ple who reg­u­larly at­tend the mosque.

The FBI and the fed­eral Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives joined the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fire. Schreiber


Mosque mem­ber Farhad Khan sur­veys dam­age at the cen­ter Thurs­day in Fort Pierce, Fla.

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