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'This Was A Hate Crime': Men Accused In Bloomington Mosque Bombing Plead Not Guilty

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- One of the men accused of bombing a Twin Cities mosque may soon strike a plea deal.

Surveillance video shows what happened when an explosive device landed inside Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington last year. No one was hurt, but the damage was severe.

Investigators blame three militia members from Illinois.

It was a place of faith, rocked by hate. And 16 months later, they're still recovering.

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"This was an incident that changed my life and basically my community's life," said Mohamed Omar, executive director of Dar Al-Farooq.

Omar was in the room next door to the one that was bombed.

Dar Al-Farooq Mosque Bombing
A surveillance image of the bombing (credit: Dar Al-Farooq)

"I mean, this is the first time I have witnessed a bomb next to me, and I was raised in Somalia, and it was a war-torn country, but the first bomb I witnessed was in America in my mosque," he said.

Officers say these three men from rural Illinois drove to the Twin Cities and bombed the mosque. Joe Morris pleaded not guilty inside a St. Paul courtroom on Tuesday. Michael McWhorter did the same, but his attorney says they will likely strike a plea deal soon.

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"It's not over, we don't even know why they did it," Omar said. "Some of whatever I heard was they want to keep Muslims out of the country. I mean specifically, why our mosque? And why 600 miles to our mosque? And what was the motive behind it?"

Investigators say the men formed a militia group calling themselves the "White Rabbits," and went on a crime spree of robberies. They even attempted to bomb a women's clinic.

"We need justice to be served," Omar said. "I'm hoping that the government would see this not as a solo incident, this was a hate crime, this was terrorizing our community."

Morris and McWhorter are in jail awaiting trial in Minnesota. That could change if McWhorter enters a pleas deal.

Michael Hari, the third suspect is being held in Illinois.

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