Bombing suspect melted railroad tracks in Effingham

Bombing suspect melted railroad tracks in Effingham

A Minnesota Muslim leader is welcoming the arrests of three men from central IL suspected in the bombing of a suburban Minneapolis mosque last summer.

Federal investigators on Tuesday arrested three rural IL men on a criminal gun complaint that also links them to an attempted bombing at a women's health clinic in Champaign and a mosque attack in Minnesota.

Prosecutors say McWhorter threw a pipe bomb into a mosque in Blooming, Minneapolis on August 5. Nevertheless, no one was hurt-although the blast did heavy damage to the imam's office at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center.

In a written statement, the US 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 was charged with a gun offense, but he was not identified as a suspect in the bombing or attempted bombing.

Fellow suspect Hari also previously told the Chicago Tribune in April 2017 how he planned to build President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico for around $10 billion.

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. On Jan. 27, law enforcement received information from a confidential source indicating that McWhorter, Morris and Hari were responsible for the bombing.

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

Hari allegedly told McWhorter's brother when he dropped off the guns, "The police will want to come talk to me; can I keep them here until I speak to them?" said the affidavit.

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

Minnesota is home to the biggest Somali community outside of east Africa with estimated 57,000 people residing in the Minneapolis area.

Mohamed Omar, the center's executive director, said at the time that the mosque didn't receive any threats beforehand or claims of responsibility afterward. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had offered $30,000 as reward for any information leading to the conviction of the bombing.

Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, called on Minnesotans to call out anti-Muslim sentiments within the community. 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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