Federal authorities have charged three Illinois men Tuesday with the bombing of a Minnesota mosque last year. One of the suspects said they had a goal to “scare” Muslims out of the United States, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Greg Brooker, U.S. attorney for Minnesota spoke at a Tuesday evening news conference about the case. He said: “Although the investigation is ongoing, it is important that the public be made aware that these individuals have been apprehended and are charged federally with the bombing in Bloomington,” said “That bombing that took place last summer was a tragedy for all Minnesotans, and from the beginning, it has become a top priority for federal and local law enforcement and remains so today.”
From the AP: A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield, Illinois, says the men also are suspected in the attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in November.
The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, was bombed just before morning prayers on Aug. 5, causing a fire and extensive damage although no one was injured or killed. There was an attempted bombing of the Champaign, Illinois, Women’s Health Practice on Nov. 7.
The three men are identified as Michael B. Hari, 47; Joe Morris, 22; Michael McWhorter, 29. All are from Clarence, a rural community 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Champaign-Urbana. A fourth man was charged with a gun offense, but he was not identified as a suspect in the bombing or attempted bombing.
A complaint said a tip in December led authorities to investigate the three men, after a person sent the local sheriff photos of guns and bomb-making material inside Hari’s parents’ home, where Hari often stayed. In January, a second informant told authorities that the three men had carried out the mosque bombing and the failed clinic bombing, according to the complaint.
The report says McWhorter admitted that the three rented a pickup in Champaign and drove more than 500 miles to Minnesota to bomb the mosque, according to a criminal complaint.
The report continues: He said they wanted to let Muslims know they are not welcome in the United States and “scare them out of the country,” according to notes taken by the FBI.
McWhorter also allegedly admitted that the three men tried to bomb the abortion clinic on Nov. 7, again renting a truck to carry out the attack. McWhorter described a PVC pipe bomb and said Morris broke a window and threw it in, where it failed to go off, according to the complaint.
The complaint did not indicate why they targeted a mosque so far fro Illinois, or why they targeted the clinic.