Three men arrested, charged in Minnesota mosque bombing

Three men arrested, charged in Minnesota mosque bombing

Three men from IL are charged with arson for the bombing of an Islamic center in Bloomington.

Michael Hari, 47, Joe Morris, 22, Michael McWhorter, 29, and Ellis Mack, 18, all of Clarence, are accused of being in possession of assault rifles from October 2017 - March 2018. They and Ellis Mack, 18, also of Clarence, face a federal charge of possession of a machine gun, according to John E. Childress, U.S. attorney for the central district of IL.

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.

According to the U.S. 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.

The blast, which happened just before morning prayers on a Saturday, damaged the imam's office across the hall from the worship space. Clarence is about 35 miles north of Champaign-Urbana.

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Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Hari this morning as he was traveling to a court appearance in Ford county, Illinois, for a hearing in a pending assault case against Hari. His parents told officers Hari often stays there because his home had no running water. One of the arrestees, Michael McWhorter, told authorities that the men had been involved in other violent crimes in central IL and Indiana. He claimed that it was Mr. Hari's idea to target the mosque and that Mr. Morris had smashed the mosque's window with a sledgehammer, according to the affidavit.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the attackers.

"This is definitely a relief that this case is finally to conclusion and those assailants-slash-suspects are apprehended and no longer a threat to our community", Hussein said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The mosque primarily serves Somalis in the Minneapolis area. Minnesota has the largest Somali community in the United States, according to the most recent census estimates.

Soon after the explosive device was thrown in, the mosque's executive director, Mohamed Omar, said, a member of the congregation rushed outside and saw a truck driving away from the mosque's parking lot. Mosque leaders later released security video from inside the mosque that caught the moments before the explosion, and some smoke and flying debris.

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