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Militia leader sentenced to 53 years in Minn. mosque bombing

By
Don Jacobson

Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The former leader of an Illinois right-wing militia group drew a 53-year prison sentence Monday in connection with the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque.

Emily Claire Hari, formerly known as Michael Hari, was sentenced in Minneapolis by U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank after being found guilty last year on five counts of civil rights and hate crimes.

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Prosecutors accused Hari, 50, of masterminding the Aug. 5, 2017, bombing of the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis.

They alleged Hari, Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris were part of a militia group calling itself the "White Rabbits" and targeted the Mosque because of its Muslim affiliation.

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Authorities said Hari constructed a pipe bomb and rented a pickup truck in Illinois. Then, Hari, McWhorter and Morris took the truck from Illinois to Bloomington, stopping to pick up diesel fuel and gasoline, which they mixed in a plastic container, the Justice Department said.

Morris broke a window and threw the plastic container into the mosque, while McWhorter allegedly lit a fuse and threw a pipe bomb through the opening. Morris and McWhorter pleaded guilty and acted as star witnesses in Hari's trial.

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No one was injured in the attack, but the incident sparked fear and anxiety in Minnesota's Islamic community, religious leaders said.

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Frank declared the long sentence was justified because the attack showed "premeditated and very sophisticated planning" through which Hari intended to "scare, intimidate and terrorize the Islamic place of worship," the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The sentencing was preceded by nearly two dozen victim's "impact statements," many by mosque members, who told the judge they remained fearful of hate crimes even four years after the attack, according to KARE-TV.

"Hari sought to terrorize an entire faith community," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement. "Today's sentence makes clear that such acts of hate-fueled terror will not be tolerated.

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"The Dar al-Farooq community has shown powerful strength and resolve during this case. As demonstrated by this verdict and sentence against Hari, the Justice Department will prosecute hate crimes to the full extent of the law, including those that target places of worship and other religious sites," she added.

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