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Mosque fire started by arsonist

27 May 2011 General 8 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

The fire that destroyed the Masjid al Emaan mosque in Stockton last month was ruled arson, but officials said there was no evidence that the blaze was motivated by hate.

By Christian Burkin

STOCKTON – The fire that destroyed a north Stockton mosque in April was caused by an arsonist, investigators announced Wednesday.

With the announcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also released a short video clip recorded by a surveillance camera about one hour before the fire is believed to have started, around 4 a.m. April 23.

The clip shows a person, apparently a man, walking in and out of Masjid al Emaan at 4212 N. Pershing Ave. He appears to open the door quickly and easily, without forcing it. Over his head is a plastic or very thin paper bag, obscuring his face.

The ATF is offering $10,000 to anyone who can identify the suspected arsonist.

“Somebody who knows this person should be able to recognize him,” said Special Agent Helen Dunkel of the ATF’s San Francisco office.

The fire was reported around 4:15 a.m., about one hour after the video was taken. It took nearly 40 firefighters about one hour to control the two-alarm fire.

At first, firefighters attacked the fire from inside the building but withdrew over concern the roof might collapse. In the end, the mosque was a shell, charred within.

The adjacent Reliance Real Estate was destroyed. The church with which the mosque shared a wall, Living Well Ministries and Christian Center, also was damaged.

Investigators estimated the cost to repair the damage at $400,000.

No one was injured in the fire. The mosque’s members moved elsewhere, but the new space, in the same area, was too small too accommodate them all.

Dunkel would not say whether video taken earlier or later showed anything significant. She said investigators – including the Stockton fire and police departments – were still working to solve the crime and were cautious not to release information that would threaten their work.

Deputy Fire Chief Paul Willette said there was no evidence yet that the fire was motivated by bigotry, a potential hate crime.

“There’s no one saying this person entering and leaving the building is not necessarily a member of the mosque,” he said. “Maybe they are. Maybe they’re not.”

The president of Masjid al Emaan, Fahmy Nasser, said the video was chilling and that it was difficult to explain why the door had been left unlocked.

“This is a place of worship; people come in and out,” Nasser said. “It must have been left open by the last person who left that night.”

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the arsonist to call ATF’s hot line, (888) ATF-FIRE, or (209) 244-6653. Anonymous tips leading to an arrest are eligible for the $10,000 reward.

Contact reporter Christian Burkin at (209) 546-8279 orcburkin@recordnet.com. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/burkinblog.

Original post: Mosque fire started by arsonist

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8 Comments »

  1. I hope this coward gets executed. He doesn’t deserve to go thru the court process. The justice system in the US will allow this devil worshipping zionists to walk free. I say whomever finds him, shot him in the back of the head. Then once he’s rotting in hell, along with the other haters of Islam, justice will be served. He will burn 5 trillion times worse within his first 2 seconds in hell fire.

  2. This is VERY unfortunate… But Yazeed why are you so extreme in your punishment ??? What are the Christians suppose to say in Egypt Iraq Iran Indonesia, Syria just to mention a few with THEIR churches burned AND KILLINGS… If anything you should be standing up in defence of the Christians since your religion is peaceful right?

  3. YA Yazeed!
    Please calm down! This is not how Islam teaches us to respond. Think about how much hate, pain, and suffering the prophet(PBUH) endured! If the prophet endured so much pain, and put forth so much kindness, we surely should try and do the same. Remember the early days of Islam, some of the most violent haters became the strongest Muslims, would you attack your future brother in Islam. I beg you not to feed the fire of those who do not understand the truth. They may have been hurting worse than we are now.
    AS’salaam Alikum!

  4. I apologize (Lio and Fellow Muslim) I wrote that out of fraustration. It just really bothers me that people in this country don’t care for the people who practice the Muslim religon. Like its ok for them to do such hateful and hurtful things for no reason. But I do still stand by my “an eye for an eye” saying. The coward(s) that did this deserved to be set on fire. Because if they were true beleivers in God, they wouldn’t do such a sin like that. I know this is a little off the topic, but as much as I could care less about the Saudi gov’t, they got that countries rules in check. If someone steals, they chop off his hands. If a person commits adultery, they cut off his private part or stone the female. Laws like that are useful and obeyed. Just imagine if America enforced those laws, the murder rate, rape rate and all other criminal acts would drop bigggg time.. Anywho, thats my point of view. May Allah bless all worshippers, Christians, Mulims and Jews.
    Salaam

  5. Maybe Yazeed was over the top in the way he expressed himself- but why shouldn’t he be angry about this? As a Muslima, I’m angry whenever someone torches a mosque or attacks the believers. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. And although I don’t by any means condone the burning of Christian churches or Jewish synagogues, I get particularly angered when it’s a mosque that’s destroyed because I am a Muslima. I think that’s understandable.

  6. Arson? Ironic see how many Islamophobes say that Muslims took down the WTC and are tayrreroist commie-Nazi-fascists and anti-Islamophobes are that too(expect I don’t support terrorism, Nazism and fascism(I support communism though lol) and I love freedom).

    Yezeed, they should get punished for possible murder and arson but not executed without a trial. However, as you are a Muslim, I can see how you would get angry. I am angry too, but that is too harsh.

    This person is a coward, if you have any info on him please call the ATF.

  7. I have read all of your opinions above and yet no one REALLY condones whats going on to the Christians in the middle east such as the KILLINGS. All I read is eye for an eye and chopping off hands, stoning and castrating !!! This is 2011!!! I agree Islam was ”peaceful” in the beginning but some how along the way it has lost its’ way. If Islam is to be respected worldwide MAYBE it should show some respect back and allow religious freedom to the other religions in their parts of the world?!?!? … Love they neighbour and turn the other cheek …

  8. Yazeed, This is exactly why a lot of people are worried about Muslims. You are a modern Muslim living in the United States, yet you want to institute draconian consequences that non Muslims do not wish to be implemented and do not want forced upon them. I am sorry but anyone that stones a woman for adultery is nothing short of a murderer, it matters not how godly that person wants to believe he is or who the person is on this planet that engages in such behavior. Beliefs such as this are akin to cannibalism. The ones who do it may try to justify it but it is simply wrong on any moral level and should not be tolerated by any civilized society. It is also statements like these that cause people to worry about Sharia law being implemented within the US even in localized situations. I do not understand why comments such as you put out are not displayed on the loon watch section of this publication.

    Hey you got to love those Muslims in Pakistan, the religious tolerance they display is an shining example for the entire world.

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