NY police say man confesses in firebomb on mosque

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 12:03

New York: A New York man arrested for
attacking an Islamic centre and a Hindu place of worship with
firebombs has confessed to his role in the incidents that
caused outrage over the weekend, citing personal grudges with
people at the targeted locations.

The 40-year old, whose identity has not been released yet,
was arrested yesterday after the police tracked down his car
that was seen at the site of the attacks through surveillance
cameras as well identified by few witnesses, Police
Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Charges are pending against the man who confessed during
questioning that he hurled molotov cocktails using Starbucks
bottles at the five locations in Queens, including a
convenience store and two other residences on New Year`s day.

"The individual is implicating himself in each of the five
firebombing cases, citing personal grievances with each
location," police spokesman Paul Browne said.

Kelly said the man in custody had been kicked out of the
convenience store on December 22 for trying to steal a glass
Starbucks bottle and milk and had made threats as he was
escorted out of the store.

"When they were pushing him out of the store, he said
words to the effect that `We`re going to get even. We`re going
to get back at you,`" Kelly said, adding the man was motivated
by personal grievances with people at each of the locations.

The attacks, being investigated as possible hate crimes,
caused outrage among city officials and inter-faith leaders
who said such incidents should not be tolerated and the guilty
be brought to justice.

In a show of support, city Mayor Michael Bloomberg and
Kelly joined several Muslim, Jewish and Christian
representatives at the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation centre, which
was one of the targets, for a news briefing yesterday.

"As I said before, we don`t know what the motive was,"
Bloomberg told reporters.

"But in New York City, as you know, we have no tolerance
for violence, and certainly no tolerance for discrimination".
Bloomberg said whether it was a "senseless violence or a
hate crime... in either case, we`re just not going to tolerate
it in this city".

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said the person
responsible for the attacks "must be punished to fullest
extent of the law. This is terrible. And to just throw bombs
when you don`t even know who`s inside, that`s wrong. That`s
wrong and it`s not right for Queens".

While no one was injured in any of the attacks, property
was damaged. About 80 people were inside the Islamic centre at
the time of the attack.

"We were a little bit anxious and a bit nervous in the
beginning because we weren`t sure. But now after having seen
all the support that we have been receiving it is very
reassuring," said Al-Khoei Foundation Representative Meesam
Razvi.

The Imam at the Al-Khoei centre Maan Al-Sahlani said, "We
are one family. If one gets hurt, all the family gets hurt.

So, we have to be shoulder to shoulder".

The police had earlier released a sketch of the suspect
and surveillance video that showed a man hurling the cocktail
at a house that was used for Hindu worship services.

The suspect had been described as a black man, 25-30 years
old, 5`8" who drove away in a light coloured sedan.
A USD 12000 reward was also offered for information on the
man.

Kelly had termed the attacks "a heinous type of crime,
particularly when people are sleeping in their homes".

In a statement distributed at the meeting between
Bloomberg and religious leaders, the Muslim Peace
Coalition-USA said an anti-Islam and anti-Muslim campaign had
"made Islamophobia politically acceptable in America" adding
that the police was keeping the entire Muslim community under
"warrantless surveillance".

Last month a group of Muslim leaders had boycotted a
meeting with Bloomberg, citing anger over New York police and
federal agents spying on mosques and infiltrating Muslim
community centres to garner information on the community.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 12:03

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