Federal Jury Convicts Illinois Man for Bombing the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Yesterday, a federal jury returned a guilty verdict against Micheal Hari, 49, for his role in the bombing of the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Aug. 5, 2017.
Following a three week trial, the jury convicted Hari on all five counts of the indictment, including intentionally defacing, damaging, and destroying any religious real property because of the religious character of that property; intentionally obstructing, and attempting to obstruct, by force and the threat of force, the free exercise of religious beliefs; conspiracy to commit federal felonies by means of fire and explosives; carrying and using a destructive device during and in relation to crimes of violence; and possession of an unregistered destructive device. Hari faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison.
"I commend the outstanding efforts of the trial team from the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI, which tried this case with support from the Civil Rights Division. The jury's verdict confirms the fundamental principle that every person in this country has the right to exercise religion free from violence and fear," said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. "We are grateful for our law enforcement partners on this case and are pleased to see justice being carried out."
"Michael Hari's goal in bombing the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center was to spread hatred, instill fear, and threaten the constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion. This act of violence, driven by hatred and ignorance, shook our community," said U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald for the Distirct of Minnesota. "This guilty verdict represents a condemnation of that hatred and upholds our fundamental right to live and worship free from the threat of violence and discrimination. I am sincerely grateful to the Assistant U.S. Attorneys and the FBI special agents who, over several years, have remained steadfast in their pursuit of justice."
As proven at trial, during the summer of 2017, Hari established in Clarence, Illinois, a terrorist militia group called "The White Rabbits." Hari recruited several men, including co-defendants Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris, to join the militia group, which he outfitted with tactical vests and assault rifles. On Aug. 4 and 5, 2017, Hari, McWhorter, and Morris drove in a rented pickup truck from Clarence to Bloomington, Minnesota, with the mission of bombing the Dar al-Farooq (DAF) Islamic Center. Hari targeted DAF in an attempt to scare Muslims into believing they are not welcome in the United States and should leave the country.
As proven at trial, Hari, McWhorter and Morris arrived at DAF on Aug. 5, 2017, at approximately 5:00 a.m. Morris used a sledgehammer to break a window, which was part of DAF's Imam's office, and threw a plastic container containing diesel fuel and gasoline mixture into the building. McWhorter then lit the fuse on a 10-pound black powder pipe bomb that Hari had built and threw it through the broken window. McWhorter and Morris ran back to the truck, where Hari was waiting in the driver's seat. The three men sped away from the building and drove back to Clarence. When the pipe bomb exploded, it ignited the mixture in the plastic container, causing extensive fire and smoke damage to the Imam's office, in addition to water damage caused by the building's sprinkler system. At the time of the bombing, several congregants were gathered in the mosque for morning prayers.
On Jan. 24, 2019, McWhorter and Morris pleaded guilty to their roles in the bombing.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI.
U.S. Attorney MacDonald thanks Assistant U.S. Attorneys John F. Docherty, Allison Ethen and Timothy C. Rank, who tried this case with assistance from Lead Paralegal Specialist Lynette Simser, Witness Specialist Jeffery Knopps, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie E. Allyn, Trial Attorney Tim Visser from the Civil Rights Division, and the Special Agents of the FBI's Minneapolis Field Office. Their hard work and commitment to the pursuit of justice made this result possible.
Topic(s): Civil Rights
Component(s): Civil Rights Division
Civil Rights - Criminal Section
USAO - Minnesota
Press Release Number: 20-1334
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