Police officers in Bloomington arrested a white male after he came running into Dar Al Farooq mosque, surprising and startling many of the congregants present for Friday prayers.
After chasing the man to the roof, police officers apprehended him and took him off the premises, according to Mohamed Omar, executive director of Dar Al Farooq.
“It was a big scene,” Mohamed told Sahan Journal. “A lot of people are shocked.”
Mohamed counted some 20 police officers at the scene as events unfolded, as well as police cars and fire department trucks in the mosque’s parking lot.
The intrusion and subsequent arrest happened around noon on April 9, just as congregants were preparing for Friday prayers, one of busiest times of the week for the mosque. Dar Al Farooq went into lockdown after the man breached the building; the leadership subsequently canceled two scheduled worship services.
Speaking mid-Friday afternoon, Mohamed said he was still awaiting more details from the police. He specifically wondered whether the man deliberately targeted the mosque or ran into the mosque while being chased for unrelated reasons.
“There’s a huge panic in our community, given what’s happened here before,” Mohamed said. “We don’t know what’s going to come next.”
Dar AL Farooq has been attacked before. In 2017, three men from Illinois affiliated with a hate group called “White Rabbit Militia” smashed a window and threw a pipe bomb into the building. The bomb exploded early in the morning as a group of congregants were praying in a nearby room, though no one was injured. A federal court convicted the three men last December.
Also last year, two teenagers assaulted a Dar Al Farooq imam, Mohamed Mukhtar, as he walked to the mosque, sending him to the hospital. Police would later report that the attack on Imam Mohamed wasn’t motivated by hate or bias.
A traffic stop gone wrong?
By mid-afternoon, operations at the mosque resumed to normal.
Bloomington police say the man who ran into the mosque was fleeing from a traffic stop.
Police identified allegedly stolen plates on the man’s car and pulled him over at the intersection of American Boulevard and Chicago Avenue, about two blocks north of the mosque. The man then ran from the scene and into the mosque, where police eventually arrested him, according to a written statement from Bloomington Deputy Police Chief Mike Hartley.
Firefighters were on hand to escort the man down from the roof “safely,” Hartley added.
“This person has no affiliation with Dar Al Farooq or Success Academy, and there is no ongoing threat to the community,” Hartley said in the statement.