January 25, 2019 – In Breaking News – Effingham Daily News
Two Illinois militia members pleaded guilty Thursday in the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque, admitting that they hoped the attack would scare Muslims into leaving the country.
Michael McWhorter, 29, and Joe Morris, 23, of Clarence, Illinois,, pleaded guilty in federal court to five counts that also included an attempted bombing of an Illinois abortion clinic.
Each faces at least 35 years in prison.
A third defendant, 47-year-old Michael Hari, whom prosecutors said directed the bombing, remains in federal custody in Illinois.
(A former sheriff’s deputy and two accomplices are accused of a pipe bomb attack on a Minnesota mosque last August. Court papers say alleged ringleader Michael Hari promised his accomplices $18,000 to participate in the attack. Courtesy of the Associated Press and YouTube. Posted on Mar 14, 2018.)
Morris’ attorney, Robert Richman, said Morris merely followed the lead of a man he had known as a father figure since he was 9.
“Hari essentially weaponized Joe Morris,” Richman said.
The August 2017 attack on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in suburban Bloomington shook the community.
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota, called for life sentences for McWhorter and Morris, saying that would send the message that such acts won’t be tolerated.
He noted the men’s admission that they wanted to inspire fear in Muslims. He added: “We’re not going anywhere.”
Prosecutors said the men threw a pipe bomb into the mosque that caused an explosion and fire that damaged the imam’s office just as morning prayers were about to begin.
(Learn More. Courtesy of CBS Miami and YouTube. Posted on Aug 5, 2017.)
No one was hurt.
The indictment alleged that the men interfered with Muslims’ free expression of religious liberty.
The counts against all three include damaging property because of its religious character, forcibly obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs, conspiracy to commit felonies with fire and explosives, and using a destructive device in a crime of violence.
Hari was also charged with possessing an unregistered destructive device…
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