August 08, 2017 03:32 AM
At the FBI office in Brooklyn Center, Rick Thornton had strong words to say about the bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center over the weekend: "We are putting every resource into this matter, it is the highest priority of this office."
Thornton said a command center was set up at the highly secure office almost immediately after the mosque was damaged. He shared pictures of the room, with some of the agents' faces concealed and other areas shielded because of security concerns.
He said agents who specialize in bomb construction and destruction, fire experts, analysts, intelligence officers and others are collectively working to solve the crime.
"We even brought a plane from Washington D.C. to fly evidence back so that our lab technicians could get working on it immediately," Thornton said.
He explained that the mosque had security cameras inside the building but not on the outside. Agents are reviewing that interior footage, along with collecting data from cellular networks, interviewing and re-interviewing worshippers who were preparing for morning prayers at 5 a.m. when the blast occurred.
Thornton described the bomb as an IED, an improvised explosive device, but wouldn't elaborate beyond that. He said agents are looking for trace value, fingerprints, DNA and anything that could be attributed to one or more people. He confirmed it was a homemade device likely made by an amateur, not a professional or military type.
When asked if the incident is considered a hate crime or an act of terrorism, he replied, "We simply don't know that at this point. That's part of the investigation."
Given the heightened need for security, a private company posted a guard outside the mosque on Monday.
Mike Hartley with the Bloomington Police Department said there had been no reported threats ahead of the blast.
The FBI is the lead agency because anytime an explosive device is built or a house of worship is targeted, it becomes a federal crime. The agency set up a hotline for tips: 800-CALL-FBI
There is a $24,000 reward for information leading to those responsible.
Since the first of the year, Thornton said there have been a handful of investigations involving places of worship in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.
Updated: August 08, 2017 03:32 AM
Created: August 07, 2017 09:44 PM
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