In what may have been a domestic terrorist attack, an improvised explosive device was thrown at a Bloomington, Minnesota, Islamic center just after 5 a.m. on Saturday morning. None of the Dar Al Farooq Center’s 20 or so early-morning worshippers were injured by the blast, which struck and damaged an imam’s office, starting a small fire which was quickly put out, and filling the building with smoke. An FBI-led investigation is now underway, and includes local authorities, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force — though no motive or suspects in the attack have yet been identified.
Congregants of the mosque, which primarily serves the Bloomington area’s Somali population, are already calling the act a hate crime, and the center’s executive director, Mohamed Omar, told a local news station that “one of our congregation members came out immediately and he saw a truck fleeing from the parking lot, running at very high speed.” Asad Zaman, who directs the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, told reporters that a witness saw someone throw something at the office window from a van or truck prior to the explosion, but it’s not clear if that was the same witness or not. Zaman called the attack a firebombing.
The FBI has collected components of the explosive device and will now try to determine how it was assembled and by whom. They are also analyzing video and cell-phone data from the scene.
The Department of Homeland Security has released a statement saying that Acting Secretary Elaine Duke is following the investigation and that the DHS “fully supports the rights of all to freely and safely worship the faith of their choosing and we vigorously condemn such attacks on any religious institution.” Neither President Trump nor the White House has yet acknowledged the bombing.
The Star Tribune reports that both congregants and neighbors were shaken by the blast. The center, which serves as a mosque, community center, and day-care provider, has occasionally received threats and hateful phone calls or email messages, but it has never been attacked before. Some area residents apparently opposed the center when it bought the building, a former school, in 2011, but the only complaints since then have been related to noise or traffic-related problems.
“An attack on a mosque is an attack on a synagogue is an attack on a church is an attack on all faith communities,” the CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches, Reverend Curtiss DeYoung, declared at an interfaith news conference responding to the bombing on Saturday.
The Minnesota chapters of the Muslim American Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are each offering a $10,000 reward for any information which leads to an arrest and conviction for the crime. An online fundraiser has also been started for the center.