Ford County Man Accused In Mosque Bombing Attempted Escape: Court Filing
Here's an update on the case against the alleged militia leader from Ford County, Illinois, accused of orchestrating the firebombing of a Twin Cities Minnesota mosque nearly two years ago. Federal prosecutors say Michael Hari tried to escape from custody while he was being moved from Illinois to Minnesota.
The bombing of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, early on August 5, 2017, caused extensive damage to the building. But the five people who had gathered there for morning prayers escaped unharmed.
Seven months later, the FBI announced the arrest of three suspects -- all alleged members of the self-styled White Rabbits -- a small anti-government militia group based in Clarence an unincorporated community in Ford County, in east-central Illinois.
A federal grand jury indicted 48-year-old Michael Hari, 30-year-old Michael McWhorter, and 24-year-old Joe Morris on explosives and hate crime charges related to the mosque bombing.
McWhorter told investigators that he wanted to frighten Muslims into leaving the United States and let them know that they’re not welcome here.
The men were also charged with machine gun possession, conspiracy, and attempted arson for allegedly attempting to bomb a women’s clinic in Champaign, robbing Walmart stores, and bombing train tracks to extort money from a railroad.
McWhorter and Morris pleaded guilty in January, a few weeks before authorities transported Hari from Illinois to Minnesota. It was during that trip that federal prosecutors say Hari tried to flee from custody. The court filing on Tuesday does not offer any details about the alleged escape attempt, nor does it say where it happened.
Hari was kept for several months at the Sherburne County Jail in Elk River, Minnesota -- which houses many federal detainees, including Hari’s co-defendants. He was later moved to nearby Anoka County.
In a court filing Monday, Hari’s public defenders asked a judge for a delay in court proceedings. They said Hari had been unable to review the government’s evidence against him because Anoka County jail staff had put him in administrative segregation.
Prosecutors say they do not dispute Hari’s constitutional right to review the government’s evidence, but they say he was put in segregation after he disabled a security device in his cell.
Neither Hari’s attorneys nor the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office responded to requests for comment.
Hari’s trial is set for late September in St. Paul. Morris and McWhorter remain jailed as they await sentencing, and face a minimum of 35 years behind bars.