By CBS Minnesota
Federal investigators are in Bloomington Saturday after a reported explosion at an Muslim community center.
Bloomington police say the explosion was reported at about 5:05 a.m. at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center on the 8200 block of Park Avenue South.
The FBI took over the investigation by early Saturday afternoon, and said in a statement that the explosion was “caused by a destructive device in violation of federal law.”
(Federal authorities now say an explosion at a Bloomington Islamic center was caused by an improvised explosive device. Courtesy of WCCO – CBS Minnesota and YouTube)
The building sustained fire and smoke damage, but there were no injuries.
Asad Zaman, the executive director of Muslim American Sociey of Minnesota, says a device was thrown inside as people were preparing for morning prayer.
A worshiper saw someone standing by the outside window of the center’s imam before the explosion, and then saw a truck speeding away from the scene before smoke starting pouring out from the window.
Worshipers extinguished the fire before first responders arrived.
The Muslim American Society of Minnesota and the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations are each offering a $10,000 reward for information about this crime, bringing the reward total to $20,000.
“We hope a reward will help law enforcement authorities quickly apprehend the perpetrator of this act of violence targeting an American house of worship,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Amir Malik.
“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.”
Minnesota Senator Al Franken reacted to the explosion on Twitter Saturday afternoon.
Franken said in another tweet, “Violence like this has no place in Minnesota and no place in America.”
Gov. Mark Dayton released this statement Saturday:
“Every place of worship, for all Minnesotans of every faith and culture, must be sacred and safe.
My prayers are with the children, families, and faith leaders of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center today.
I thank the Bloomington Police and Fire Departments, all other first responders, the FBI, and the ATF for their swift responses to this incident.
Their investigations will be crucial in determining what happened this morning.
I will remain in close contact with Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman throughout the weekend and until this investigation is complete.
On Twitter, Rep. Erik Paulsen said “Standing w/ Dar Al-farooq community today. Relieved to hear no one was hurt. I’m confident the investigation will get to the bottom of this.”
Rep. Keith Ellison responded to the incident as well:
“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.
All are welcome. Those are Minnesota values.
Today, those values were attacked when terrorists detonated a bomb at the Bloomington Islamic Center. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
Hate is becoming too prevalent in our society. It spreads on social media and infects our discourse. We must counter it with love and the values we hold so dear.
While we do not yet know who is behind this attack, we do know that they do not represent what makes Minnesota special.
I know law enforcement will find the suspects quickly and bring justice to our community.”
In a joint press conference between the FBI, ATF and Bloomington Police Department Saturday afternoon, FBI Special Agent Rick Thornton said an “improvised explosive device” was responsible for the explosion, but wouldn’t yet characterize the incident as a hate crime or act of terrorism.
“At this point our focus is to determine who and why,” FBI Special Agent Rick Thornton said in a press conference. “
A lot of the questions we’ve been receiving from the media thus far — is it a hate crime? Is it an act of terrorism? Who did it? — All these things, again, that’s what the investigation is going to, is to determine who and what the motivation was.”
(Asad Zaman, the executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, said a $10,000 reward has been offered for information about the incident. Courtesy of ReutersHD and YouTube)
ATF Special Agent Jim Modzelewski gave his condolences to those affected by the bombing.
“Our ultimate goal is to find the folks who are responsible for this and hopefully provide some closure to the folks that were victimized by this this morning,” Modzelewski said.
Acting Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement there are no known threats to Islamic communities in Minneapolis:
“The Minneapolis Police Department continues to monitor the incident and information released by investigative authorities related to the explosion that occurred at the Dar Al Farooq Mosque in Bloomington, MN earlier today.
At this time there are no known threats to any Minneapolis Mosques or Islamic organizations.
The MPD will work with our local Muslim community members and continue to provide public safety in the neighborhoods where their places of faith and organizations are located.”
The Department of Homeland Security also released a statement.
“Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke is aware of the explosion today at a mosque in Bloomington, Minn.
We are in close contact with federal, state and local authorities and local community leaders as the investigation into this matter continues.
The Department of Homeland Security fully supports the rights of all to freely and safely worship the faith of their choosing and we vigorously condemn such attacks on any religious institution.
We are thankful that there were no injuries, but that does not diminish the serious nature of this act.”