Monday, March 13, 2017

Minnesota man who sent threatening letter to Islamic Center sentenced to 12 months In prison

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Jaylani Hussein and members of the Minnesota Muslim/American community address the media
THE MAN who sent a threatening letter to a Minneapolis mosque received a year's sentence in prison for his act of hate.
Daniel George Fisher, 57, of Minneapolis, Minnesota was sentenced March 8 to 12 months in prison and three years of supervised release for mailing a letter in which he threatened to blow up an Islamic Center.
“The free exercise of one’s religious beliefs is a fundamental tenet of our democracy,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler said in a prepared statement announcing the sentence. “This sentence sends a message that anyone who threatens others with violence because of religious intolerance will face significant consequences.”

On Nov. 30, 2016, Fisher pleaded guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 247, for obstructing, by threat of force, the free exercise of religious beliefs. According to his guilty plea, in September 2015, Fisher wrote and mailed an anonymous letter to the Tawfiq Islamic Center (TIC), located in Minneapolis, and threatened to “blow up your building with all you immigrants in it.” The letter also included slurs and disparaging statements, evincing the defendant’s strong anti-Muslim animus.

Fisher told investigators that he had been increasingly angry with Muslims since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC. Fisher admitted that he sent the letter to scare and intimidate the TIC's members so they would stop building the Center in his former neighborhood.

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“My Office takes very seriously any threat of violence against an individual or their place of worship based on race, religion or cultural practices,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger of the District of Minnesota. “We will continue to work closely with the FBI to prosecute these types of crimes, which threaten religious freedoms and violate fundamental civil rights.”

“The sentence handed down today committing the defendant to federal prison reflects the severity of his appalling hate crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the FBI's Minneapolis Division. “The FBI will continue to prioritize, investigate, and bring to justice those who commit federal hate crimes and other civil rights violations.”
Hate incidents directed towards Muslims have risen dramatically since Donald Trump was elected president.
"This is definitely a scary time for the American Muslim community," said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of Minnesota's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

"Mosques aren't just buildings. They're symbols of the community. Individuals are obviously facing some form of aggression, but most don't report those aggressions. In Minnesota we've seen that really increase, and it shows this rhetoric and int
imidation leads to violence."