Three Ford County men were charged Tuesday with bombing a Minnesota mosque past year in an effort to drive Muslims out of the USA, and they and a fourth man also were charged with possession of a machine gun in IL.
A complaint released by U.S. Attorney John Childress on Tuesday announced the arrests of 47-year-old Michael Hari, 29-year-old Michael McWhorter, and 22-year-old Joe Morris, all from Clarence, Illinois, "were responsible for the bombing of a mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota". The men, all from Clarence, Illinois, are each facing one count of arson and are in federal custody in Urbana, Illinois.
"Hari was the driver, Morris was responsible for smashing the window in, and McWhorter was responsible for throwing the bomb in the window", the affidavit states.
McWhorter also allegedly admitted that the three men tried to bomb the abortion clinic on November 7, again renting a truck to carry out the attack.
Law enforcement agencies executed search warrants at the home of Hari's parents in Paxton. One of the arrestees, Michael McWhorter, told authorities that the men had been involved in other violent crimes in central IL and Indiana.
According to the federal affidavit, one of the suspects, McWhorter, said the group bombed the mosque to "scare [Muslims] out of the country" and to "show them [Muslims], 'Hey, you're not welcome here, get the fuck out'".
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation; Springfield Division; FBI Minneapolis Division; University of Illinois Police Department; Ford County Sheriff's Office; Champaign Police Department; Illinois State Police; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are continuing the investigation. Judge Long ordered Morris held by the U.S. Marshal Service. He requested a court order barring federal officials from interfering with his business.
Anti-Muslim incidents rose sharply in the United States in the year after the 2016 US presidential election, according to a review by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The Dar al-Farooq mosque mainly serves Somalis in the Minneapolis area. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community outside of east Africa, with an estimated 57,000 people, according to the most recent census estimates.
"A witness saw something being thrown at the imam's office window from a van or truck before the blast", Asad Zaman, director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, said at a news conference.
Mohamed Omar, the center's executive director, said at the time that the mosque didn't receive any threats beforehand or claims of responsibility afterward.