News ID: 114325
Publish Date : 25 April 2023 - 22:37

Two Mosques Targeted in Arson Attack in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (CBS News) – A Minneapolis mosque was damaged by fire in the Phillips neighborhood Monday evening.
Fire crews found the flames on the third floor of Masjid Al Rahma and evacuated several people including children. No one was hurt, and investigators are still working to determine the cause.
Meanwhile, police are searching for the man who brought gasoline inside another Minneapolis mosque Sunday evening and apparently tried to torch it. It is not clear if the fires are connected.
Minnesota’s Muslim community says this is just one example of rising attacks on their places of worship.
Surveillance video shows the man carrying a brown bag into Mall 24’s mosque just before 7 p.m. Sunday. Muslim community leaders say inside the bag was gasoline, which he then used to light a fire in the bathroom.
“We averted a major tragedy. The amount of liquid that he brought to cause the harm that we’re expecting here, you know, this mall could have been engulfed,” said CAIR-Minnesota Executive Director Jaylani Hussein.
He said worshippers chased the man out and were able to put out the fire before it spread further.
“This is now potentially an act of arson that occurred in a house of worship, so now there’s potentially a federal offense,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara.
O’Hara met with community leaders on Monday. He said there will be an increased police presence at the mall in the coming days, in addition to a new surveillance camera. They believe the man may be responsible for other acts of vandalism in the past.
CAIR-Minnesota says he left graffiti and a gasoline canister at the mall in January.
“We know Islamophobia is alive in our state, and we’re just making sure that [we’re] educating the community so they know this is serious,” said Minneapolis City Councilmember Jamal Osman.
CAIR-Minnesota said the incident is the fourth time a mosque has been damaged this year.
“This is increasingly challenging for our community, and it sets our community in a very uncomfortable position,” Hussein said.
Chief O’Hara said he is in contact with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office about this incident, which he says could open up additional resources as the case continues.
“We need the community to see the image of this person, and we need the community to tell us if they see this person out there, if they have any information at all of who this might possibly be,” he said.