Arsonist Burns Landmark Toledo, OH Mosque

If you’ve ever driven north on I-75 into the Toledo area, you’ve surely seen the magnificent white building seemingly arising out of the farmland at the juncture with I-475. It’s not just a gorgeous mosque, it’s one of the landmark buildings in the Toledo area. It’s just as much a part of the city as the Jeep factories or the water.

And some asshole set it on fire on September 30, another in the series of arsons targeting Muslim houses of worship this year.

“We’re actually reeling in disbelief,” Dr. Mahjabeen Islam, president of the Islamic Center of Toledo in Ohio, told Hatewatch today in describing the devastation caused by a fire deliberately set in the mosque’s prayer area on Sunday afternoon, just minutes after worshippers had left the building.

“This is a hate crime and it’s very significant it was started in the center of the prayer area, right under the dome,” said Islam. The mosque she heads is the third largest in the United States, a 70,000-square foot landmark, visible for miles, with 3,000 members who will celebrate the center’s 32nd anniversary on Friday.

The fire and water damage from sprinklers touched every room in the Islamic Center, causing an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million in damages. Repairs will take an estimated six months.

A suspect in the arson, whose image was captured on surveillance cameras, was arrested Tuesday in neighboring Indiana. On Wednesday, Randy T. Linn, a 52-year-old truck driver from St. Joe, Ind., was charged in Perrysburg, Ohio, Municipal Court with two counts of aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, and carrying a concealed weapon, the Toledo Blade reported in today’s editions.

I know all these hate crimes are senseless. But this one hits home. I don’t care what faith–or no faith–you are: this is one of those religious buildings that inspires awe. And to try to intimidate the people who built such a monument is just vile.

Update: DOJ just charged Linn with Federal hate crimes.

(Mosque image by Jerry under Create Commons usage)

 

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

16 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Re the update: I’m guessing that “defamed Muslims after arrest” means Mr. Linn did not ask for an attorney. Either that, or he ignored the person pulling on his sleeve who kept saying “Shut up! Shut up!”

    I wonder what the penalties are for aggravated arson (x2), aggravated burglary, and carrying a concealed weapon, with federal hate crimes on top of that.

  2. thatvisionthing says:

    I clicked the link. Two thoughts:

    1) You should have included their picture with yours. It’s not a fire in the basement, like you might hope if you focused on “arsonist,” it’s total ruins.

    2) “This article was originally published by The Southern Poverty Law Center.”

    Do you trust The Southern Poverty Law Center? What do I know, but I don’t. They were informants to the feds before the Oklahoma City bombing, and afaik we only know that because of Jesse Trentadue’s relentless FOIAing to get at the truth of how his brother was suicided while in federal custody in an Oklahoma prison, whisked away there in August 1995 after being caught in a beer parole violation at the border in San Diego, apparently because he matched a description for John Doe No. 2. James Ridgeway at Mother Jones has done a lot of reporting on that; this is the first story I think: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/07/search-john-doe-no-2-story-feds-never-told-about-oklahoma-city-bombing?page=1

    Jesse Trentadue — the first I heard of him and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s role (and even Eric Holder’s role) was an interview on Antiwar Radio: http://original.antiwar.com/scott/2010/04/18/murder-lies-and-the-oklahoma-city-bombing/ It would make for a pretty long excerpt to quote, but search on Southern and start there.

  3. thatvisionthing says:

    tvt note: My followup comment disappeared when I hit Post Comment, so I’m trying it with the link removed.

    Manufacturing consent/journalism malpractice — mostly I used to love Rachel Maddow (what I remember from when I had TV), but she really pissed me off when she had her Timothy McVeigh special in 2010 and her expert guest was the guy from the Southern Poverty Law Center who somehow never mentioned or was asked to discuss SPLC’s expertise in the bombing.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36665062/ns/msnbc-rachel_maddow_show/#.UG8-a2YnaRI

    John Doe No. 2 got three brief mentions, starting with “Several witnesses claim to have seen a second man in the Ryder truck prior to the bombing,” and ending with “Suspected accomplice John Doe number two was never identified or found.” Thanks.

    I remember the news coverage at the time and the police sketches we all saw of John Doe No. 1 (McVeigh) and John Doe No. 2. Wikipedia used to have John Doe No. 2’s sketch on its page for the Oklahoma City Bombing, but that’s been gone for a long time now. You can do a web image search and still see it, along with people’s ideas for who he was. Some people say Andreas Strassmeier, one of the other known informants, e.g. [removed link]. Wikipedia has no entry for Andreas Strassmeier, so I can’t say if that’s a verified photo.

    Gore Vidal wrote about the FBI investigation for Vanity Fair in September 2001, The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh, an interesting read: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2001/09/mcveigh200109

  4. thatvisionthing says:

    @thatvisionthing:

    Ah!

    It was that one: http colon double slash d a g m a r . l u n a r p a g e s dot com / ~ p a r a s c 2 / g a l l e r y / g a l l e r y i t e m s /andreas.htm.

  5. emptywheel says:

    @thatvisionthing: The picture in Salon is of Joplin. This fire was somewhere in between Joplin–total ruin–and thte fire in the basement stuff. $1M of damage, but in a huge building. l

  6. Peterr says:

    @emptywheel: The photo in the Toledo Blade (from your link above) looks as if the fire itself was confined to the prayer room, but (as often happens) the water from the sprinklers throughout the rest of the building caused most of the damage.

    Note: this is the way it is supposed to work. Yes, you damage/lose a bunch of furnishings with all that water, but you PUT OUT THE DAMN FIRE so that the building itself is not lost. In large buildings, you might have a more complex sprinkler system that triggers the sprinklers in a more limited area (i.e., those places adjacent to the fire), but in medium and smaller buildings, they go off everywhere.

  7. scribe says:

    Now, on to the more substantive question: why is this shitbird not being charged as the terrorist he is?

    Or do we only charge Muslims as terrorists in America?

  8. guest says:

    What beautiful building are you talking about? All I see is a geodesic dome type mosque-esque building that looks like it was done by the folks who designed the Medieval Times restaurants. Almost as ugly as the hate crimes that have damaged or destroyed it.

  9. thatvisionthing says:

    @scribe: Really? Why? I’ve seen your comments for years and you must have seen mine. I’ve posted pretty much that same info before. What’s your problem with me now? I’ll be happy to debate, but spitting, you’re on your own. Best wishes.

  10. bell says:

    when does the usa public/media etc. have an open conversation about the rampant islamophobia that has descended on the usa since 9-11? as i see it, the actions of this lunatic are a reflection of that..

  11. thatvisionthing says:

    thatvisionthing:

    @2:

    It would make for a pretty long excerpt to quote, but search on Southern and start there.”

    Actually, I was thinking about a joke Sara told us once about the FBI, and when I found it, it was part of a back and forth in a long thread, and I see I posted the long excerpt there @116: http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/06/11/cables-on-vatican-sex-scandals-among-those-sent-to-wikileaks/#comment-242481

    Sara’s joke was @121: http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/06/11/cables-on-vatican-sex-scandals-among-those-sent-to-wikileaks/#comment-242491

    …some of the better old left jokes are about CP Cells and Branches that were nearly entirely made up of FBI informants, trying to convince other informants to plan the overthrow of the Government, and then reporting on each other.

  12. thatvisionthing says:

    Why John Doe No. 2 really, really matters: Because witnesses say it was him and not McVeigh who was the last one out of the Ryder truck, and the one who apparently set the bomb after McVeigh had walked away.

    There’s a youtube, Oklahoma City Bombing Federal Surveillance Tapes Coverup, of what appears to be local TV news coverage at the time. I posted a fuller transcript a couple years ago at http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/09/29/the-compromise-intelligence-authorization/#comment-257723.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5v8v4P1-Qc

    […]

    NEWSCHANNEL 4 KEVIN OGLE: It was just hours after the bombing when the NewsChannel first told you about the possibility that surveillance cameras may have captured the explosion and the killers on tape. Our sources and sources for the LA Times describe what’s actually on those tapes. The information shows some huge surprises — the biggest, that it may have been John Doe No. 2, not Timothy McVeigh, who detonated the bomb. Brad Edwards has the latest on the investigation in this exclusive NewsChannel report.

    NEWSCHANNEL 4 BRAD EDWARDS: Our new information comes directly from a source that has seen parts of those surveillance tapes. It also comes from reports now in the Los Angeles Times. But perhaps the biggest surprise is contained in the NewsChannel’s own information.

    Timothy McVeigh was not the last person to leave the Ryder truck. In fact another man sat inside the cab of the truck after McVeigh got out. We believe that man is John Doe No. 2, a man who for all we know is still on the loose, leaving open the vital question, was it John Doe No. 2 who actually set off the bomb, not Timothy McVeigh as we’ve all been lead to believe? NewsChannel 4 has for weeks been demanding copies of the surveillance tapes from the FBI. The federal government so far is dragging its feet, but many people in the investigation have seen the tapes and now so has a source willing to describe to the NewsChannel what the tapes show. The LA Times report shows there was a surveillance camera near the corner of Fifth and Harvey and another near the corner of Fifth and Robinson. Federal investigators recreated the time sequence leading up to the bombing by matching the video and still photos from the surveillance cameras. Since we can’t show you the tape ourselves, we’re reenacting what our source says he saw on those tapes.

    […]

    Channel 4’s reenactment is quite different from the video recreation posted on the Rachel Maddow Show with the SPLC watching and commenting. Rachel had no John Doe 2.

    One of the things Jesse Trentadue was FOIAing for was the various building surveillance tapes. What he got: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/27/oklahoma-city-bombing-tap_n_301293.html

    Oklahoma City Bombing Tapes Appear Edited: Attorney (VIDEO)

    The tapes turned over by the FBI came from security cameras various companies had mounted outside office buildings near the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. They are blank at points before 9:02 a.m., when a truck bomb carrying a 4,000 pound fertilizer-and-fuel-oil bomb detonated in front of the building, Trentadue said.

    “Four cameras in four different locations going blank at basically the same time on the morning of April 19, 1995. There ain’t no such thing as a coincidence,” Trentadue said.

    He said government officials claim the security cameras did not record the minutes before the bombing because “they had run out of tape” or “the tape was being replaced.”

    Does any of this apply to the Toledo mosque? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t write it off, especially when I see SPLC as a news source. Which was my point. And I barely touched on Eric Holder’s part in squelching congressional hearings on the Oklahoma bombing and the “suicide” of Kenney Trentadue, known as “the Trentadue mission” in the FOIA’ed e-mails. Maybe the DOJ is like the old MGM, one blockbuster production after another. Out here in the audience, is what what I’m seeing? That’s the other point, we can’t know.

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