News Local/State

Change Of Plea Expected For Two Ford County Men In Mosque Bombing Case

Minnesota mosque bombing suspect Michael McWhorter, of Clarence, Illinois.

Undated photo of Michael McWhorter, who, along with Joe Morris, is expected to change his plea at an upcoming court appearance on charges of bombing a Minnesota mosque in 2017. Ford County Sheriff's Office

Two alleged militia members from Ford County accused of bombing a Minnesota mosque in 2017 are due back in court on Thursday for change of plea hearings.

23-year-old Joe Morris and 29-year-old Michael McWhorter are accused along with 47-year-old Michael Hari of tossing a pipe bomb through the window of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul in Minnesota.

No one was hurt in the early morning blast on August 5, 2017, but it damaged the building. McWhorter allegedly said the men bombed the mosque to scare Muslims from the country.

Morris and McWhorter each pleaded not guilty in 2018 to federal hate crime and explosives charges. But they're expected to change their pleas at hearings in St. Paul on Thursday, January 24.

In December, McWhorter's attorney said a plea deal with federal prosecutors was in the works.

The men are being held in Minnesota, at the Sherburne County Jail.

Morris, McWhorter and Hari are alleged members of the White Rabbit militia group that posted messages on YouTube in 2018.

Hari – a former Ford County sheriff’s deputy who is the alleged leader of the group -- faces additional federal charges and remains held in Illinois.

A fourth Ford County co-defendant, 19-year-old Ellis “E.J.” Mack, changed his plea to “guilty” in September, and agreed to cooperate with authorities. Mack is not charged in the mosque bombing, but was accused with Morris, McWhorter and Hari of attempting to commit robbery and extortion to raise money for the White Rabbit militia group, and of possessing a machine gun.