Minneapolis police arrested a man suspected of setting two fires that damaged mosques in the city last week as part of what the chief called “an attempt to inflict terror onto our Muslim community.”
Police Chief Brian O’Hara announced the arrest of 36-year-old Jackie Rahm Little early Sunday but didn’t provide details of how he was apprehended. He was charged with second-degree arson after the fires were set on April 23 and 24 and an arrest warrant was issued.
“Houses of worship should be safe places. Setting fire to a sacred facility, where families and children gather, is incredibly inhumane. And this level of blatant hatred will not be tolerated in our great city,” O’Hara said in a statement Sunday.
Leaders with the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations praised the arrest after the fires that had unnerved the Muslim community in the area.
“This arrest brings some relief to our community, which has been on edge for the past week,” said Jaylani Hussein, the group’s executive director. “We hope to learn more about the suspect’s motivations and any potential accomplices who may have incited these attacks on our houses of worship.”
One fire was set last Monday on the third floor of the Mercy Islamic Center. The center houses the Masjid Al Rahma mosque.
The criminal complaint against Little states that surveillance footage showed him entering the center carrying a bag with a gasoline can inside. A short time later, a staff member spotted a fire near offices. It was extinguished before it could spread very far.
The other fire was Sunday night in the bathroom of the mosque in the 24 Somali Mall. Worshippers extinguished the fire.
The two mosques are less than a mile apart. O’Hara had said earlier that the department suspected the same person was responsible for that blaze.
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