Muslim Leaders Speak About Bloomington Mosque Bombing Arrests

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Three men arrested in IL on gun charges are now suspects in the bombing of a mosque in suburban Minneapolis, federal authorities announced Tuesday.

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.

A fourth man, 18-year-old Ellis Mack, also faces the gun charge, but he was not identified as a suspect bombing or attempted bombing.

According to the USA attorney's office in Springfield, Michael B. Hari, Joe Morris, and Michael McWhorter are suspected of carrying out the Bloomington attack, as well as attempting to bomb the Women's Health Practice abortion clinic in Champaign, Illinois, in November. No one at the Minnesota mosque was injured, but the building sustained minor damage. A statement from the USA attorney's office in Springfield said the men were arrested on charges of possession of a machine gun.

Mr. McWhorter told law enforcement officials that he and the two other men had been driving a Nissan Frontier, which Mr. Hari had rented.

According to a 16-page probable cause statement filed in U.S. District Court in Urbana, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives received a tip February 19 about potential bomb-making materials at the home of Hari's parents in Clarence.

He also said it was Hari's idea to target a mosque, with the intention to "scare them out of the country".

Hari was arrested as he was traveling to a court appearance in Ford County on unrelated assault charges. 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.

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 previous year.

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

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. The mosque's executive director, Mohamed Omar, said the vehicle immediately sped away. The FBI had offered a $30,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the bombing.