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Florida man pleads guilty after threatening to attack mosque

By Ray Downs
Florida man pleads guilty after threatening to attack mosque
Gerald Wallace, 35, pleaded guilty last week to making a threatening phone call to a mosque and faces 20 years in prison. Photo courtesy Miami-Dade Corrections

Oct. 22 (UPI) -- A Florida man pleaded guilty last week to threatening to attack a mosque and shoot its members, the Department of Justice said.

Gerald Wallace pleaded guilty to to one count of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs after "leaving a hate-filled and profanity laden message against Islam, the prophet Mohammed, and the Koran, during which he threatened to go to the mosque" and shoot its members, the department said in a statement. "He further admitted that by leaving this threatening message, he obstructed congregants who worship at the Islamic Center from freely exercising their religious beliefs."

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According to the indictment, Wallace called the mosque on Feb. 19 and left a threatening message in which he said, "I hate you Muslims."

The Miami Herald reported that Wallace, who worked as a grocery store security guard before his arrest, told authorities he had an "absolute hatred" of Muslims since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and he had attempted to call several mosques to make threats.

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"Hate crimes, no matter their form, engender fear and have no place in our society," said Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg. "By leaving a hate-filled and profanity laden message against Islam and threatening to shoot the members of the mosque he targeted, Gerald Wallace obstructed the free exercise of religion. Hate crimes not only violate our laws, but they are contrary to our country's most fundamental principles."

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Wallace, 35, faces 20 years in prison for the terror threat and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced Jan. 17.

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