Man Charged With Hate Crime in Connection With Coachella, California, Mosque Fire

13 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

23-Year-Old Man Arrested On Suspicion Of Setting Fire To Coachella Valley Mosque.

Police investigating a fire at a Coachella, Calif., mosque that erupted Friday are treating the incident as a possible hate crime and have detained a “person of interest.” Moments before the blaze erupted at the Islamic Society of the Coachella Valley, some witnesses described hearing a “loud boom,” according to the Desert Sun. The fire comes against the backdrop of increasingly heated rhetoric after the San Bernardino shooting carried out by Islamic extremists, and Donald Trump’s proposal that the U.S. ban all Muslim immigration. Friday and booked on five felony charges, including commission of a hate crime, arson, maliciously setting a fire and second-degree burglary, according to law enforcement sources and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department booking records. — A 23-year-old man was booked Saturday on arson and hate-crime charges in connection with a fire that burned through part of a Southern California mosque just before a prayer service on Friday.

Authorities believe the shooters were self-radicalized Islamic extremists. “It’s horribly lamentable that we would paint any group as undesirables based on the actions of an extremely small number of radical folks that don’t represent the religion in any way,” he said. “If in fact it was done with the mosque as a target … it’s reprehensible, and the people who perpetrated that act should be treated the way we would any other terrorist.” Friday’s fire was reported about 12:10 p.m. inside the mosque in the 84600 block of Avenue 49 in Coachella, said Jennifer Fuhrman, a spokeswoman for the Riverside County Fire Department. The Sheriff’s Department “believes this is an intentional act, and we are using all available resources to follow up on any leads that are brought to our attention,” Deputy Armando Munoz, a department spokesman, said in a statement Friday evening. “Cal Fire and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting us with this investigation.” The fire started about 15 minutes before an afternoon prayer service. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.” Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience.

The mosque’s congregation is a diverse group, made up of people from several countries and economic backgrounds, said Alwishah, who added that worshipers had a “feeling of devastation” after the incident. Offices belonging to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Santa Clara, Calif., and Washington, D.C., were evacuated after letters containing a powdery substance arrived at each building on Thursday. More than a dozen firefighters arrived within minutes and contained the fire to the lobby, although there was smoke damage throughout the building, officials said.

In that attack, authorities say a couple who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State terror figures opened fire Dec. 2 at a holiday party, killing 14. The Sheriff’s Department said Friday that it believed the fire had been deliberately set and that federal investigators were participating in the investigation.

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