Oregon man charged with federal crimes after Mosque fire
Reuters reports that an Oregon man was arrested on Wednesday night on federal charges arising from a fire set to the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Coravallis. The fire, which took place on November 28 last year, apparently involved an office in the building. Nobody was injured in the incident.
According to the FBI, the 24-year-old man was taken to a hospital back in December for a psychiatric evaluation after he was seen waving a knife and yelling about Islam. Federal officials believed the arson was racially and religiously motivated. His indictment included charges of federal hate crimes.
Investigators tracked the man down based on DNA found on a flashlight. Court documents said the man is a "potential major contributor" of the DNA. In investigating the man's house, they took DNA samples and seized computers, digital camera equipment, a gas can and a lighter. That evidence is still being examined.
According to Attorney General Eric Holder, federal authorities conducted an evaluation into whether the arson had been in retaliation for the arrest of a Somali teen who has been accused of attempting to detonate a fake bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland last year. The teen, now 20 years old, was apparently a student at Oregon State University in Corvallis and had attended the Corvallis mosque for prayers on occasion. He has since pleaded not guilty to federal charges and is currently awaiting trial in Portland.
Sources said the 24year-old Oregon man maintains his innocence.