Police: Arson Strikes Mosque Where Orlando Nightclub Shooter Worshipped

AP

A Florida mosque where Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen prayed was set ablaze in an act of arson early Monday morning, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Maj. David Thompson said that surveillance video showed a person approaching the side of the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce just before a flash went off, the Sun Sentinel reported. The person then fled the premises.

No one was injured in the fire, which was set shortly after midnight while the building was unoccupied.

The Sentinel reported that the sheriff’s office has asked the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to join the investigation being led by local authorities and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Mateen, who went on a shooting rampage in June at an LGBT club in Orlando, had worshipped at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce since 2003. The mass shooting left 50 people dead, including Mateen.

Imam Syed Shafeeq Rahman told CNN in an interview earlier this week that his mosque preached a message of peace.

“So far as we here in Fort Pierce are concerned, we are always very conscious—consciously speaking about peace, about love, about unity,” Rahman said. “We came to this country; this country gave us everything.”

Attacks on Islamic houses of worship have escalated in the past year in response to terrorist attacks. The Council for American-Islamic Relations reported that 2015 marked a peak in the number of incidents targeting U.S. mosques.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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