Three arrested, charged in United States mosque bombing

Michael Hari mugshot via The News Gazette
Michael Hari in a 2017 police mugshot

Why three men allegedly chose to travel some 500 miles (805 kilometers) from a rural farming community of less the 100 residents in central IL to bomb a particular mosque in suburban Minneapolis isn't clear.

In a written statement, the USA attorney's office in Springfield said the men - identified as Michael B. Hari, 47, Joe Morris, 22, and Michael McWhorter, 29 - also face charges of possession of assault rifles, which are classified as machine guns, and attempting to bomb an IL abortion clinic in November.

Ellis "EJ" Mack, 18, was also arrested on charges of possession of a machine gun, but has not been charged in the mosque bombing. Clarence is about 35 miles north of Champaign-Urbana.

The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington was bombed last August just before morning prayers, fortunately the attack- touted as a "criminal act of terrorism" by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton- left no casualties but resulted in a fire and extensive damage to the mosque.

McWhorter told investigators that he threw a pipe bomb into the mosque, according to the complaint.

It is unclear why the suspects traveled more than 600 miles from their hometown of Clarence, Illinois, to allegedly carry out the attack against the mosque in Minnesota.

It identifies them as Michael B. Hari, 47; Joe Morris, 22; Michael McWhorter, 29. The pipe bomb exploded, causing a fire that was extinguished by sprinklers, according to an affidavit. The truck then sped away, the affidavit said.

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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.

Charges also state that, when drinking one night with Morris and McWhorter, a source said Morris began talking about throwing a black powder pipe bomb at a mosque in Minnesota.

"While there are still many questions to be asked, we are grateful the people responsible for this attack will be brought to justice", said Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The incident was similar to the attempted bomb attack at an abortion clinic three months later.

Hussein tells The Associated Press that Muslims are glad that the suspects are "no longer a threat to our community".

The Islamic Center primarily serves Somalis in the Minneapolis area and houses a mosque and religious school for children. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had offered $30,000 as reward for any information leading to the conviction of the bombing. "Why this one out of the 75 mosques in Minnesota?" said Asad Zaman, an imam, and Muslim Society of Minnesota executive director. The video didn't show the blast itself.

"That bombing that took place last summer has been a tragedy for all Minnesotans", said Greg Brooker, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota.

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