(SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 12/24/2015) – The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization, today questioned the release of a Richmond, Calif., man who allegedly threatened and plotted to bomb local Muslims.
William Celli, 55, is accused of yelling “I'm going to kill you all” outside the Islamic Center of West Contra Costa County earlier this month and of posting a picture of a pipe bomb on social media the same day. He was arrested Sunday after a bomb squad safely detonated a device described as a pipe bomb, but without the components that would cause an explosion attached.
At his arraignment Wednesday, Celli pleaded not guilty to a felony count of making criminal threats with a hate-crime enhancement and a misdemeanor hate crime charge.
Video: CAIR Welcomes Arrest of California Man Who Planned to Bomb Muslims
CAIR-SFBA has since learned that Celli was released on bail last night.
“We are shocked at the release on bail of an individual who faces such serious allegations of targeting a religious minority with violence,” said CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo. â€œSuch a quick and easy release only serves to create the perception that the legal consequences faced by alleged terrorists are determined by their faith and ethnicity.â€
Billoo added that CAIR-SFBA will seek intervention by federal authorities in the case.
CAIR-SFBA has called for increased security at mosques and Muslims organizations, federal charges for Celli and for across-the-board repudiation of anti-Muslim political rhetoric.
CAIR recently released a preliminary report on more than 70 incidents targeting American mosques and religious institutions in 2015 that shows a greater frequency of damage, destruction, vandalism, and intimidation than in any other year since CAIR started tracking such cases in 2009.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
– END –
CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, 626.252.0885, firstname.lastname@example.org