A five-count federal indictment charges Michael Hari, 47, Michael McWhorter, 29, and Joe Morris, 22, with violating federal civil rights and hate crime violations in connection with an explosion at the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center (DAF) in Bloomington, Minn., on Aug. 5, 2017.
McWhorter, Morris, and Hari were previously named in a criminal complaint filed on March 13, 2018, in the District of Minnesota, charging them with arson.
The three defendants are currently being held in custody in Urbana, Ill., on separate charges.
“All people – regardless of where they worship – have the right under federal law to live free from the threat of violence and discrimination,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “This Justice Department will hold accountable under the law anyone who attempts to commit violent acts of hate by threat or action.”
The indictment returned by a federal grand jury alleges that Hari constructed a pipe bomb and rented a pickup truck in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. Hari, McWhorter, and Morris drove from Illinois to Bloomington, Minn., in the pickup truck, stopping along the way to purchase diesel fuel and gasoline. The defendants mixed these ingredients together in a plastic container.
The indictment alleges that, in the early morning of Aug. 5, 2017, Morris broke a window at DAF and threw the plastic container containing the diesel fuel and gasoline mixture into the building. It is alleged that McWhorter then lit the fuse and threw the pipe bomb in the broken window at DAF. According to the court documents, the window that was broken was part of the Imam’s office. When the pipe bomb exploded, it ignited the mixture in the plastic container, causing extensive damage in the Imam’s office. McWhorter and Morris returned to the pickup truck, where Hari was waiting, and sped off, driving back to Illinois.
The charges allege that the defendants targeted the mosque with intent to damage the mosque because of its religious character and with intent to obstruct Muslims from worshipping there. DAF serves as a religious center as well as a religious school for children. As described in the complaint previously filed with the Court, McWhorter said in reference to the DAF explosion that the defendants did not intend to kill anyone, but they wanted to “scare [Muslims] out of the country” and to “show them, hey, you’re not welcome here.”
As described in the complaint previously filed with the court, a tip from a confidential source helped to lead investigators to the defendants.