Three Men Arrested On Gun Charges Are Now Suspects In The Minnesota Mosque Bombing
Three men arrested in Illinois on gun charges are now suspects in the bombing of a mosque in suburban Minneapolis, federal authorities announced Tuesday.
The men are suspected of throwing an explosive into the imam’s office at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington in the early morning hours of Aug. 5, 2017. The blast caused damage to the room and filled the building with smoke, but did not result in any injuries to congregants preparing for morning prayers in an adjacent room.
The bombing sent shock waves through the Muslim-American community, which has seen an increase in disapprove crimes in the final couple of years, according to data from the FBI. A report released in June 2017 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations showed a 91% increase in anti-Muslim incidents in the first six months of 2017 compared to the preceding year.
According to the US attorney’s office in Springfield, Michael B. Hari, Joe Morris, and Michael McWhorter are suspected of the Bloomington attack, as well as attempting to bomb the Women’s Health Practice abortion clinic in Champaign, Illinois, in November.
They were arrested along with a fourth man on suspicion of illegally possessing a machine gun.
According to a federal affidavit, a confidential source and an anonymous tip were instrumental in compiling evidence against the group of three. In fact, a transcript of the tip submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), shows the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, was share of the reason the tipster reached out.
“i also sent something approximately it to the newspaper so whether you just blow it of like you did that school schooter [sic] kid in florida the press will know you got a tip so you better check it out…” a readout of the tip states.
The same day the tip was received, the Ford County Sheriff’s Department, the University of Illinois Police Department, and the FBI responded to the domestic addresses if by the tipster. There they found a pipe bomb attached to a propane tank, according to the affidavit.
Authorities say they also found four assault riles, three of which turned out to be fully automatic.
McWhorter allegedly admitted his involvement in bombing of the mosque and the attempt on the women’s clinic, and told investigators that each of the three men had specific roles in the attack.
“Hari was the diver, Morris was responsible for smashing the window in, and McWhorter was responsible for throwing the bomb in the window,” the affidavit states.
Authorities told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the investigation into the bombing remains ongoing, and that the “motivations behind the attack” are still being investigated.
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