Two men, members of a militia group called the "White Rabbits," have pled guilty after trying to blow up a mosque to "scare" Muslims out of the country. They are also suspected of trying to bomb an abortion clinic.
Two members of a militia group that calls itself the "White Rabbits" pled guilty on Thursday to bombing a mosque in the US state of Minnesota. The men said that they had hoped to scare Muslims into leaving the country.
Michael McWhorter, 29 and Joe Morris, 23, admitted to their roles in a spree of crimes that included two attempted bombings, armed robberies, and an attempt to extort the Canadian National Railway.
According to police, McWhorter said that his group had bombed the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, outside of Minneapolis, in 2017 in order to send Muslims the message: "you're not welcome here."
The explosion damaged the office of the mosque's imam, but no one was injured. An interfaith group was able to raise money for the necessary repairs.
The "White Rabbits" also sabotaged a section of railway and demanded $190,000 in order to stop further attacks. They have also been accused of throwing a pipe bomb at an abortion clinic, which did not detonate.
'A threat to be eliminated'
Morris and McWhorter were facing up to 35 years in prison, though that may be reduced as part of their plea agreement.
"These militia groups have zeroed in on the Muslim community," Jaylani Hussein, the Minnesota chapter chief of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told French news agency AFP.
"And a number of their blogs are overwhelmingly talking about the Muslim community as a threat and a threat to be eliminated."
An attorney for Morris argued that the young man had essentially been brainwashed by the group's leader, 47-year-old Michael Hari.
Hari, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, runs a security firm that applied for the contract to build President Donald Trump's proposed border wall. He has also posted numerous bizarre racist and xenophobic videos on YouTube.
Hari was not part of the plea agreement. He is currently in detention, facing federal hate crime charges.
es/rc (AP, AFP)