CHICAGO (AP) — Federal authorities announced on Tuesday that three men from rural central Illinois have been arrested on gun charges and that they are suspects in the bombing of a Minnesota mosque and an attempted bombing of an Illinois abortion clinic.
A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield says the men were arrested on charges of possession of a machine gun, but it later adds that the three men are suspects in the Aug. 5 explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, and an attempted bombing of the Women’s Health Practice in Champaign on Nov. 7.
The statement identifies the suspects as Michael B. Hari, 47; Joe Morris, 22; Michael McWhorter, 29. All are from Clarence, a rural community 35 miles north (56 kilometers) of Champaign-Urbana. A fourth man also faces the gun charge, but he was not identified as a suspect bombing or attempted bombing.
The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington was bombed early on Aug. 5. No one was hurt in the explosion, which happened just before morning prayers on a Saturday. But the blast damaged the imam’s office across the hall from the worship space.
The mosque primarily serves Somalis in the Minneapolis area. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community outside of east Africa, with an estimated 57,000 people, according to the most recent census estimates.
Mohamed Omar, the center’s executive director, said at the time that the mosque didn’t receive any threats beforehand or claims of responsibility afterward. The FBI had offered a $30,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the bombing.
Officials said at the time that witnesses saw someone throw something from a truck or van before the blast and saw a vehicle speed away afterward. Mosque leaders later released security video from inside the mosque that caught the moments before the explosion, and some smoke and flying debris. The video didn’t show the blast itself.
Gov. Mark Dayton called the bombing an act of terrorism when he and other officials visited the mosque the day after the explosion.
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