A fire at a Bloomington mosque early Saturday is being investigated as a hate crime by the FBI and members of its Joint Terrorism Task Force. The incident took place at the Islamic Center of Bloomington, where a ground-floor window was broken and an incendiary device was used to start a fire, an official of the mosque said. FBI Agent Wendy Osborne confirmed that the FBI "received information on an attempted arson or some type of fire that occurred in Bloomington." "The FBI did respond, and we are investigating and treating this incident as a hate crime, which we take very seriously," Osborne said. Task force members are officers from local police departments. The force is used to assist the FBI in investigating any domestic or international terrorist act, she said. A member of the mosque who stopped by between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. to use the restroom at the two-story brick building, located at 1925 E. Atwater Ave., discovered the fire before it caused extensive damage, said Nathan Ainslie, president of the mosque's executive board.
A burned Quran, Islam's holy text, was found near the broken window, and fire damage inside the building was limited to a wall, Ainslie said. When asked if the mosque had received any messages or threatening calls, he said, "Not to my knowledge. I can't comment on some of this stuff, because the investigation is ongoing." The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., released a statement Saturday saying, "We can only hope that the vandalism and fire were not prompted by the tragic events that occurred in London on Thursday." On the day terrorists set off explosions in London, the council issued a statement advising mosques in the United States to step up safety measures, noting that at times of international crisis, anti-Muslim incidents nationwide tend to increase. (MORE)