Authorities say Martin Alan Schnitzler, 43, threatened to firebomb an Islamic center in Florida shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa reported in a statement that Schnitzler called the Islamic Society of Pinellas County last Friday and left a voicemail saying he was going to the center to “firebomb you and shoot whoever is there,” according to CBS.
FBI agents arrested Schnitzler on Tuesday and charged him with making a telephonic threat to kill, injure or intimidate using fire or an explosive.
The Islamic Society of St. Petersburg also received threatening messages.
According to the FBI’s Tampa field office spokesman, Dave Couvertier, the calls came from the same person, who was identified and interviewed over the weekend, however, he said investigators found no actual plans to carry out acts of violence.
Hatem Jaber, a volunteer and teacher at the St. Petersburg mosque, says the caller threatened to “firebomb” the mosque and also said Friday’s attacks in Paris were “the last straw.”
Police identified Schnitzler via the cell phone he used to place the call.
Schnitzler said during questioning over the weekend that he was “very mad” about the terror attacks and had searched on the Internet for Islam and Pinellas county.
According to court documents, no evidence of any dangerous materials were found in his home during a search.
Schnitzler faces up to 10 years in jail on the threat by telephone charge if convicted.
Following Republicans — and one Democrat — announcing they would not accept Syrian refugees in their states, several mosques have been vandalized and a number of suspected hate crimes targeting Muslims carried out.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said on Monday that it has documented recent “vandalism, threats and hate incidents in Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Virginia, Nebraska, Tennessee, Ohio and New York, among other states, according to Al Jazeera.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday suggested he would “strongly consider” shutting down mosques in the U.S. in response to the terror attacks in Paris.
“Well, I would hate to do it but it’s something you’re going to have to strongly consider,” Trump said. “Some of the absolute hatred is coming from these areas…The hatred is incredible. It’s embedded. The hatred is beyond belief. The hatred is greater than anybody understands.”
Trump is wrong but at least he’s consistent.
Imagine for a moment if a Democratic candidate responded to a Planned Parenthood bombing attempt – because they do happen – by suggesting the closure of all Christian churches.
Freedom of religion is not meant to apply only to right wing Christians.
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