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Jury Convicts Anti-Government Group Leader Who Led Bomb Attack On Mosque

Jury Convicts Anti-Government Group Leader Who Led Bomb Attack On Mosque

A jury convicted an Illinois man Wednesday of several civil rights and hate crimes related to the 2017 bombing of a Minneapolis mosque, numerous sources reported.

Michael Hari, 49, was found guilty of all five counts in connection to the bombing of Dar al-Farooq mosque on the morning of Aug. 5, 2017, including damaging property because of its religious character, forcibly obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs, conspiracy to commit felonies with fire and explosives, using a destructive device in a crime of violence and possessing an unregistered destructive device, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The small blast, caused by a pipe bomb set an imam’s office on fire but did not injure any of the worshipers inside the building, the AP reported. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called the attack “an act of terrorism” in the day following the incident. 

Hari was allegedly the mastermind of the attack, prosecutors say, and is the leader of the White Rabbits, an anti-government group based in central Illinois. Joe Morris and Michael McWhorter allegedly helped Hari carry out the attack.

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Prosecutors cited Hari’s anti-Islamic writings and evidence of explosive device parts purchases and said that Hari was motivated by his hatred of Muslims when he carried out the attack.

Prior to a 2018 arrest, Hari had posted multiple anti-government monologues to YouTube under the screen name “Illinois Patriot.” Days before his arrest, he said FBI and local police were terrorizing the town where he lived and called on “freedom-loving people everywhere to come and help us,” according to the Associated Press.

“As we can see … from what he says and more clearly from what he writes, Mr. Hari hates Islam, he hates Muslims, and because of that hate, he bombed a mosque,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Doherty said, CBS Minnesota reported.

McWhorter portrayed Hari as a father figure to Morris and testified that Hari had waited in the car while McWhorter and Morris carried out the attack. 

Hari’s defense attorneys questioned the credibility of the co-defendants’ testimonies, however, suggesting that they were speaking out of interest for their own reduced sentences. 

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“I ask that you consider with your independent minds whether you have the whole story,” Shannon Elkins, Hari’s attorney, said according to CBS Minnesota. “Something about this story seems funny, because the government’s star witnesses can’t seem to tell the truth.”

Elkins also argued that there is no forensic evidence showing Hari was at the mosque during the attack. Prosecutors refuted the claim, citing Hari’s experience as a sheriff’s deputy, which would give him the background on forensic evidence in investigations. 

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