WASHINGTON – The arrest of a “militia” planning to attack a Kansas mosque has spread fear among American Muslims, who called on state and federal law enforcement authorities nationwide to offer stepped-up protection for mosques and other Islamic institutions.
“Given this alleged plan to attack a Kansas mosque, the two other hate incidents reported today against Islamic institutions in Michigan and New Jersey, and the overall spike in anti-mosque incidents nationwide, state and federal authorities should offer stepped-up protection to local communities,” Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a statement sent to AboutIslam.net.
“We ask our nation’s political leaders, and particularly political candidates, to reject the growing Islamophobia in our nation.”
Federal authorities announced on Friday, October 14, charges against three people arrested in connection with “a major investigation.”
CBS Evening News tweeted this yesterday afternoon: “Officials confirm the arrest of three militia planning to attack housing complex & mosque in Garden City, Kansas.”
Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein face federal charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, the Department of Justice announced Friday.
“These charges are based on eight months of investigation by the FBI that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a statement cited by the Washington Post.
“Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”
The three men had been plotting “to use a weapon of mass destruction” since February, according to an FBI complaint made public Friday.
Awad thanked state and federal authorities for their efforts in this case.
He also urged American Muslims not to be intimidated and to take part in the political process to make their voices heard on Election Day.
He said CAIR’s Kansas office is working with authorities to follow up on the arrests and the investigation.
Earlier yesterday, the New Jersey chapter of CAIR called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate hate graffiti left at a mosque in Bayonne as a possible bias-motivated crime.
The messages, spray-painted on the walls of the temporary location of Bayonne Muslims (625 Avenue C, in Bayonne, NJ), included “F**k Arabs”, “Jesus Christ,” and “Donald Trump.” Worshipers found the hate messages early this morning while attending morning prayers.
Also on Friday, CAIR’s Michigan chapter called for hate crime charges to be brought against a woman who allegedly threatened to blow up a new Islamic center in that state.
The Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization reported that 2016 is on track to be one of the worst years ever for anti-mosque incidents.
The majority of the 2016 incidents have been violent in tone, characterized by intimidation, physical assault and property damage, destruction or vandalism.
In a CAIR survey of Muslim voters released earlier this week, 85 percent of respondents said they believe that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment in the US has increased in the past year.
Thirty percent of Muslim respondents said they have experienced discrimination or profiling in the past year.