Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Militia leader sentenced to 53 years for 2017 Minnesota mosque bombing

Emily Claire Hari was sentenced to 53 years in prison for the 2017 bombing of the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

The big picture: Hari, after a five-week trial ending in December 2020, was convicted on five counts, including damaging property because of its religious character and obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs.

Background: Hari and other members of a militia group called “The White Rabbits” that she established in Clarence, Illinois, targeted the Minnesota Islamic center to terrorize Muslims into believing they were not welcome in the United States and should leave the country, the Justice Department said.

  • Hari and co-defendants Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris drove in a rented pickup truck from Illinois to Bloomington on Aug. 4 and 5, 2017.
  • After arriving, Morris broke the window of an office at the Islamic center and threw a plastic container with a mixture of diesel fuel and gasoline into the office at Hari's direction.
  • Hari then directed McWhorter to light the fuse on a 20-pound black powder pipe bomb and throw it through the broken window. No one was injured from the explosion, but it cause extensive damage to the center.
  • McWhorter and Morris pleaded guilty to their roles in the bombing. Their sentencing hearings have not been scheduled, the Justice Department said.

What they're saying: U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank, while sentencing Hari, said the attack was a highly sophisticated and premeditated act of domestic terrorism.

  • “Hari sought to terrorize an entire faith community. Today’s sentence makes clear that such acts of hate-fueled terror will not be tolerated,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said after Hari's sentencing.
  • "As demonstrated by this verdict and sentence against Hari, the Justice Department will prosecute hate crimes to the full extent of the law, including those that target places of worship and other religious sites," Monaco said.

Go deeper: Police to reinstall fence around U.S. Capitol ahead of pro-Capitol riot rally

Go deeper