May 17 2010
A pipe bomb was detonated outside Jacksonville’s Islamic Center of Northeast Florida during evening prayers last Monday. No worshippers were harmed. A surveillance video shows a middle aged man carrying a can of gasoline and the pipe bomb. Local and state police and the FBI are investigating allegations that ACT! for America, an anti-Islam hate group that has been harassing members of Florida’s prominent Muslim community, is responsible. Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of ACT! for America has made a number of disturbing statements, even claiming that a “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.” A man who barged into the mosque on April 4th crying, “Stop this blasphemy” and threatening to return may also be responsible. The perpetrator could be charged with committing a hate crime, church arson, and domestic terrorism, and may face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison. The Council on American Islamic Relations or CAIR is offering a 5000 dollar reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the bomber. This attack comes during a tidal wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in Florida that has grown following the Times Square car bomb attempt in New York. Parvez Ahmed, a University of North Florida professor who was recently appointed to the Jacksonville city council despite a torrid smear campaign, has faced a slew of inappropriate badgering from fellow council members. One council member declared that Ahmed “would be offended by a prayer to Jesus, and therefore was not suitable to serve on the commission.” Florida Republican Congressional candidate Dan Fanelli is attempting to use racial profiling as a campaign strategy.
GUEST: Ramsey Kilic, Executive Director of CAIR Tampa
Find out more at www.cair.com.
UPDATE: Seven months after the bombing of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, the FBI finally made headway in the case. In November 2010, federal investigators released to the public, a sketch of a man they believe is the perpetrator. They also released surveillance video footage of a white man wearing a black baseball cap and T-shirt. Local News channel WJXT quoted FBI officials as saying the suspect is likely to be local to the Jacksonville area and could have radical, Christian beliefs. At this time there is no evidence that the person suspected of being the perpetrator acted in concert with or on behalf of any group or organization. Rewards totaling $35,000 are being offered for his arrest and conviction. Meanwhile on January 24, 2011, a white man named Roger Stockham from Imperial Beach, California was arrested for a similar crime: attempting to blow up an Islamic Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
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