A suspect allegedly attempted to start a fire in the bathroom of Masjid Omar Islamic Center at 24 Somali Mall on the evening of Sunday, April 23, 2023. Credit: Council on American-Islamic Relations, Minnesota

This story comes to you from MPR News through a partnership with Sahan Journal.

A man suspected of arson at two Minneapolis mosques, “has been safely arrested and taken into custody,” according to a statement released early Sunday morning by Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara.

Last week, prosecutors charged 36-year-old Jackie Rahm Little, of Plymouth, with setting a fire at Masjid Al Rahma mosque on April 24, but at the time of charging, Little had not been apprehended.

A second fire was set at Masjid Omar Islamic Center the day before. Both mosques are in Minneapolis. No one was injured in the fires.

“Houses of worship should be safe places. Setting fire to a sacred facility, where families and children gather, is incredibly inhumane,” O’Hara said in his statement. “And this level of blatant hatred will not be tolerated in our great city.”

Little, also known as Joel Arthur Tueting, now faces federal arson charges. He was taken into custody Saturday night in Mankato, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Surveillance video from Masjid Al Rahma mosque shows a man entering the building with a bag containing a gasoline can. Soon after, people in the building discovered a fire in a third-floor hallway.

In his statement, O’Hara added, “Based on our investigation, there is no other known, active threat to our Muslim neighbors.”

In a statement, Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations, said the group welcomes the arrest of the suspect and is grateful for the swift arrest.

“This arrest brings some relief to our community, which has been on edge for the past week, Hussein said. “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.”

Authorities allege in court documents that in January, Little also spray-painted graffiti on the door of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s district office in Minneapolis and a patrol car assigned to a Somali Minneapolis Police officer. He is also accused of threatening Omar.

In a statement, Omar thanked the Department of Justice, the FBI and local law enforcement for their work in the case.

“Mr. Little is not only responsible for multiple arson attacks against mosques in my district and the vandalism of a Somali officer’s police vehicle, but also targeted my own office with vandalism on at least one occasion.

“We are witnessing an epidemic of hate against the Muslim community and other religious minorities in Minnesota and globally right now. This campaign of terror is designed to keep us fearful and divided. As Muslim-Americans and as Minnesotans, we will not be terrorized. We will continue to stand united against bigotry because love is stronger than hate,” she said.

Little is scheduled to make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in St. Paul at 9:30 a.m. Monday.