Charges in Minnesota mosque bombing

The United States Attorney for Minnesota has just issued a press release disclosing the filing of charges against three Illinois men for the bombing the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center (“the mosque”) in Bloomington, Minnesota. The press release identifies the three as Michael McWhorter, Joe Morris, and Michael Hari. They are alleged to have used an explosive device with the intent of damaging the center. Each of the three is identified as a resident of Clarence, Illinois. The Star Tribune story on the charges is posted here.

The three are in custody in Urbana. Morris and Hari made their initial appearance on federal charges related to an attempted bombing in Champaign today at 3:00 p.m. in federal court in Urbana; McWhorter’s initial appearance in connection with the attempted Illinois bombing will take place later at an unspecified time.

The affidavit filed in support of the Minnesota charges alleges that the three were responsible for a PVC pipe bomb that was thrown through a window of the Dar al-Farooq Center this past August 17. The press release discloses that law enforcement received information from a confidential source implicating the three in the mosque bombing on January 27 of this year. I take it from the press release that each is charged with one count of arson. Having watched the mosque’s security video of the explosion, I should add that the bomb could easily have injured those present at the time of the blast and it is lucky that no one was hurt.

The press release concludes by noting that the investigation of the mosque case was led by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Julie E. Allyn and John F. Docherty. Allyn and Docherty were two of the three Assistant United States Attorneys who prosecuted the case of the “Minnesota men” that resulted in a slew of guilty pleas and guilty verdicts in 2016.

Coincidentally, the mosque also figured in that case. Several of the defendants met there and hatched their plans to join ISIS at the mosque. The mosque has been the subject of a public relations bonanza by virtue of the bombing, but it is in my opinion a problematic part of the Twin Cities scene. We will be following this case closely.

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