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Rural Illinois Men Charged With Minnesota Mosque Bombing

15 March 2018
Rural Illinois Men Charged With Minnesota Mosque Bombing

Three men from a rural IL community were arrested on Tuesday and charged in the 2017 bombing of a mosque outside Minneapolis and the attempted bombing of an IL abortion clinic, USA prosecutors said.

Authorities in Springfield say Hari, Morris and McWhorter are also suspects in the attempted bombing last November of the Women's Health Practice, a clinic that performs abortions in Champaign.

Authorities say they have arrested three me from rural central IL on gun charges who they believe are suspects in the bombing of a Minnesota mosque and an attempted bombing of an IL abortion clinic. All three are from Clarence, a community of less than 100 people some 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Champaign.

Police in Bloomington were called in the early morning of August 5 about an explosion at the mosque, after a bomb was thrown from a van or truck through the window of the imam's office while worshippers were gathered for morning prayers, and the vehicle was seen speeding away.

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

Federal Bureau of Investigation notes showed that the motive behind this attack was to let Muslims know that they are not welcome in the United States and "to scare them away".

Each of the men has been charged with arson in connection with the mosque bombing.

Four fully automatic weapons that met the federal definition for a machine gun were found by police at the home of McWhorter's brother, who told officers Hari and Morris had brought the weapons to his home several days earlier. The pipe bomb exploded, causing a fire that was extinguished by sprinklers, according to an affidavit. In January, a second informant told authorities that the three men had carried out the mosque bombing and the failed clinic bombing, according to a complaint. McWhorter also provided details of the bomb plots, authorities said.

The complaint also said nothing about a possible motivation for the clinic attack.

Executive director Jaylani Hussein of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says the arrests are "definitely a relief".

The Islamic center in Bloomington houses not only a mosque, but also a religious school for children. 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. "At the same time, we have a lot of concerns, a lot of questions", said Mohamed Omar with Dar Al-Farooq. It's unclear if the reward money will be paid.

"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.