An interfaith prayer service will be held at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, 25877 Scheider Rd., Perrysburg, Ohio. at 2 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 7) to show support for the Muslim community after an arson fire at the Islamic Center on Sept. 30.
Among those who will be participating is Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group.
The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo was struck by an arson fire around 5 p.m. Sept. 30 when a suspect entered the building, poured gasoline on the center of the main prayer area, and set it on fire.
The FBI announced on Friday that criminal hate crimes charges were filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo against an Indiana man stemming from the arson.
The suspect, Randolph Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Indiana, was charged with intentionally defacing, damaging, and destroying religious real property because of the religious character of that property and with using fire and explosives to commit a felony.
He was arrested Tuesday at his workplace in Indiana and had been charged in Perrysburg Municipal Court with two counts of aggravated arson, one count of aggravated burglary, and a weapons charge, but the local charges were dropped after federal charges were filed.
The Islamic Center’s sprinkler system put out the flames of the blaze but water from the sprinklers and smoke caused extensive damage throughout the mosque.
Security cameras at the Islamic Center had captured images of a middle-aged white suspect wearing a camouflage sweatshirt and hat. Cameras also filmed a red, SUV-type vehicle in the parking, shortly before the fire was reported.
The FBI said in a statement that a woman contacted law enforcement offcials and identified the man in the photos as Linn.
"The woman stated that she knew Linn and that he had recently made anti-Muslim comments. Specifically, she stated that Linn had complained about the international Muslim community’s reaction to an anti-Muslim video on YouTube; recent attacks on United States’ Embassies; and the deaths of U.S. military personnel in the Middle East. She further stated that Linn complained that Muslims in this country get a 'free pass,' according to an affidavit [filed in U.S. District Court]," the FBI statement said.
"The woman recognized the sweatshirt as one Linn owned and stated that the three months earlier, Linn had purchased a red, SUV-type vehicle that matched the vehicle in the surveillance footage at the Islamic Center, according to the affidavit," the FBI said.
When Linn was arrested he told law-enforcement officials that he had three firearms in his parked vehicle, according to the affidavit. It said that while being booked and after being read his Miranda rights, Linn stated, “[expletive] those Muslims."
Mahjabeen Islam, president of the Islamic Center, said the mosque will hold its regular services under a tent on the Islamic Center grounds as long as weather permits. Repairs are expected to take at least three months, she said.
CAIR on Saturday (Oct. 6) issued a statement praising law-enforcement officials for classifying the arson attack as a hate crime.
"We welcome the federal hate crime charges in this case as a clear demonstration that the Department of Justice will not tolerate attacks on mosques or any other American houses of worship," said Awad.
Other American Muslim institutions have been targeted during a recent spike in hate incidents. In September, CAIR called on the FBI to investigate hate vandalism at mosques in Virginia and New York. In August, CAIR asked authorities to investigate a suspicious fire at a mosque in Minnesota.