BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continues to determine who and what caused an improvised explosive device to explode inside the Dar al Farooq Islamic Community Center building in the early morning hours on Saturday.
Rick Thornton, Special Agent in Charge FBI Minneapolis issued a statement on Monday afternoon via Twitter saying, “It has been three days since the detonation of an explosive device at Dar Al Farooq Center in Bloomington, MN. While there are many questions I cannot answer due to our ongoing investigation, I want to assure the community that this investigation is our top priority and we continue to work to determine who carried out this crime and why. These are important questions, and it will take time to develop the information necessary to answer them.”
— FBI Minneapolis (@FBIMinneapolis) August 7, 2017
CBS News reports that a U.S. official told them the explosive thrown into the window at Dar al Farooq was a pipe-bomb type device. This has not yet been confirmed by the FBI.
Despite the ongoing investigation, Gov. Mark Dayton has labeled the incident a “hate crime” and an “act of terror” at a press conference he held on Sunday where he was joined by Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-CD5), Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-60B) and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.
The explosion occurred around 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. There were no injuries.
Some neighbors told Alpha News they heard a boom, others said they didn’t hear anything. Mohamed Omar, a spokesman for Dar al Farooq told Alpha News on Saturday morning one of the congregants of the center saw a pickup truck drive away from the building during morning prayer service.
The Associated Press reports Omar told them the mosque does not have outside security cameras because he said his community is comprised of mostly Somali immigrants who can not afford security cameras. Omar also said the mosque did not receive any prior threats nor have there been any claims of responsibility since the incident.
A “Go Fund Me” page has been set up for Dar al Farooq where almost $44,000 has been raised so far, with a goal of $95,000. The funds raised through this campaign will go to the Al Jazeri Institute, which shares an address with the Dar al Farooq Community Center. The mission statement of the Al Jazeri institute reads, “To offer Islamic educational services to the Muslim individuals, family, and community. It intends to do this by offering Islamic and Quranic studies and Arabic language training through the medium of organized courses, weekend education, seminars lectures, and conferences.”
The statement on the Dar al Farooq Go Fund Me page says, “We have created this page to garner support to rebuild this community center and mosque damaged after an Islamophobic attack. The picture below denotes the targeted area which is our imam’s office. Extensive damage was done by the explosion and the start of the water sprinkler system. We request you to pray for us in this time of grief and make generous donations. Any amount is appreciated.”
The community center also posted an event called “Standing in Solidarity with DFC” to be held on Tuesday night (August 8) from 6-8PM at the Dar al Farooq Islamic Center, as promoted on the center’s Facebook page.
Although the Dar al Farooq explosion is eliciting a lot of sympathy from the public, the Islamic Center has been in the headlines in recent years for other matters.
Dar a Farooq ties to ISIS
An article from WorldNetDaily on April 14, 2016 reported two of nine Minnesota men who were charged with planning to join ISIS attended Dar al Farooq. An MPR article confirms the men’s ties with the mosque. Adnan Abdihamid Farah pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State (ISIS) and his brother, Mohamed Abdihamid Farah was attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Adnan is serving 10 years and Mohamed was sentenced to 30 years in prison. At least five young members from the Dar al Farooq Islamic Center have left to fight for ISIS or al-Shabaab in Somalia according to Investigativeproject.org and MPR.
Trouble in the neighborhood
Larry Frost, an attorney representing the group, “Friends of Smith Park,” a park which is adjacent to the Dar al Farooq Community Center, said the neighborhood has been having other issues with the Islamic Center. Frost told Alpha News Dar al Farooq has been violating the conditional use permit (CUP) it was granted by the City of Bloomington for the past several years.
In July 2016, Alpha News reported on “Friends of Smith Park” who filed a petition to force the Bloomington city council to address the overuse of Smith Park and the surrounding neighborhood by the center. Frost drafted an 18 page petition which outlined violations of the CUP and Joint Use Agreement (JUA) between the City of Bloomington and the Islamic center. The petition contended the city’s lack of enforcing the CUP and JUA resulted in the residents’ diminished capacity to use and enjoy Smith Park. It stated residents feared for their personal safety due to heavy traffic that often exceeds residential street speed limits, causing concern for children and other neighborhood residents when crossing the street to use the park.
Residents have put together a Facebook page called “Smith Park Neighborhood, Yesterday and Today” which chronicles the issues neighbors have had with the Dar al Farooq Community Center for the past several years.
Frost said neighbors around the Dar al Farooq Center have been complaining for years about late night activity and heavy traffic volume including excessive speeding down Park Avenue South by members of the congregation as well as parking issues during special events at the center.
“Basically with a CUP, anything that is not expressly allowed to you is forbidden. For example, if the CUP doesn’t say you can have a university there, you can’t have a university there. They have had a university there since almost the day after they were granted a conditional use permit. We have emails from the former city manager saying, ‘You can’t do this.’ Now, the city is saying, ‘Oh, it’s not really a university, it’s just an office.’ We’ve shown them class schedules and things or they’re (the city) saying ‘Well, it’s okay. We can’t do anything about it,’” Frost said.
Frost said this has been going on for the past 3 to 5 years.
Islamic University of Minnesota
According to Frost, the university in question is the Islamic University of Minnesota (IUM), which Google lists its address as 8201 Park Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55420 – which is the same address as the Dar al Farooq Islamic Community Center.
However, on its website, the IUM lists its address as 2910 Pillsbury Avenue South, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55408 – which is the same address as the Karmel Mall in Minneapolis.
The Islamic University of Minnesota was featured in an April 2016 article in the Investigative Project on Terrorism website entitled “Islamic University of Minnesota a Hotbed of Extremism.” The Investigative Project on Terrorism was founded by journalist Steven Emerson, who writes on national security, terrorism, and Islamic extremism. The article states, “The university’s website cites recognition by Holy Quran University in the Sudan, founded in 1990 by the regime of Sudanese war criminal and President Omar al-Bashir.” Alpha News searched the University’s website and the link to this recognition appears to be broken.
According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism website, “IUM also professes to serve as the official representative of Sunni Islam’s most important institution – Al-Azhar University,” which the article says has “grown increasingly radical in the U.S. and Canada.” The article claims Al-Azhar officials have refused to condemn the Islamic State (ISIS) as apostates and heretics.
KARE 11’s Ivory Hecker interviewed Dr. Waleed Meneese, who is the president of the Islamic University of Minnesota and is the Imam at Dar al Farooq. Hecker posted a tweet that said a staffer of Meneese believes the imam was “targeted by someone who’s been to the mosque before.”
Imam’s staffer tells me he believes Dr Waleed Meneese was targeted by someone who’s been to the mosque. pic.twitter.com/SxjpEVH49v
— Ivory Hecker (@IvoryHecker) August 6, 2017