Minnesota Mosque Bomb: Muslim Groups Offer $10,000 Reward for Information as Islamophobic Trolls Celebrate Incident

Muslim demonstration
Two women sit as Muslim Congress demonstrators protest hatred and religious insults in Hollywood, California, on September 22, 2012. David McNew/Getty

Muslim groups in the United States are offering rewards of $10,000 for information on the individual(s) responsible for the bombing of a mosque in Minnesota on Saturday.

There was an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, early Saturday as worshippers were arriving for morning prayers. No one was injured.

The FBI is investigating the incident, which Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton described as “a criminal act of terrorism” and an “unthinkable, unforgivable” hate crime.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights group in the U.S., said it hoped the offer of a reward of $10,000 would expedite the apprehension of suspects.

“If a bias motive is proven, this attack would represent another in a long list of hate incidents targeting Islamic institutions nationwide in recent months,” said Amir Malik, the civil rights director at CAIR’s Minnesota branch.

The organization’s national office also has called on mosques and Islamic centers across the country to step up security measures.

Read more: How the resistance is standing up to anti-Muslim speakers in America’s heartland

Another group, the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, also said it was offering a reward of $10,000 for “information leading to the arrest and conviction of the attacker.”

The FBI said Saturday that the explosion had been caused by an improvised explosive device (IED). The mosque suffered fire and smoke damage as a result; the office of the mosque’s imam was heavily damaged, with windows being shattered either by the explosion or by another object thrown through the windows.

The executive director of the mosque, Mohamed Omar, said that one member of the congregation saw a truck fleeing from the mosque’s parking lot at high speed following the explosion, CBS reported.

A delegation of political officials and community members visited the mosque Sunday to express solidarity with worshippers. They included Governor Dayton, State Representative Ilhan Omar (the first Somali-American legislator in the U.S.) and U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Community members left bouquets of flowers at the mosque on Sunday, and members of other faith groups spoke out against the act, the Star Tribune reported.

“The destruction done to this sacred site is just unthinkable, unforgivable. I hope and pray the perpetrator will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Governor Dayton at the mosque Sunday. “Anything I can do to put a stop to it, I would gladly do...All I can do in this situation is come here [to] express my solidarity, sympathy and determination.”

Ellison represents Minnesota’s Fifth District, just north of where the mosque is situated. “What makes Minnesota unlike no other is how we accept and love members of our community, no matter the religion they practice, the language they speak or where they come from,” said Ellison. “Today [Saturday], those values were attacked when terrorists detonated a bomb at the Bloomington Islamic Center.”

Ellison added that “hate is becoming too prevalent in our society” and that such discourse must be countered “with love and the values we hold so dear.”

Islamic groups have warned of an uptick in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States in recent months. In a July report, CAIR said more than 940 potential bias incidents against Muslims were reported between April and June, a 91 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016.

Mosques and places of worship have been particularly targeted. In July, an individual left a large painting of Jesus outside a mosque in Long Island in an apparent attempt to provoke worshippers; in June, a burned copy of the Quran, stuffed with bacon, was left chained to a fence near a Sacramento mosque.

CAIR said that its Facebook page had been inundated with anti-Muslim messages since the mosque bombing and its offer of a $10,000 reward. The group shared pictures of messages sent by people celebrating the incident. One read: “Blow up all mosques. Muslim fairy tales have no place inside the United States.” Another said: “If they find this person they should give him a medal.”

Around 3.3 million Muslims live in the United States, or around 1 percent of the population, according to a May report by the Pew Research Center.

Minnesota is home to the largest concentration of Somalis in the United States, and the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center serves people mostly from the Somali community. During a November 2016 campaign speech, then–presidential candidate Donald Trump said that a “disaster” was taking place in Minnesota due to “faulty refugee-vetting” as well as great numbers of Somali refugees coming to the state “without your knowledge, your support or approval.”