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New Jersey Mosque Evacuated In Apparent 'Swatting' Incident

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There were some tense moments Thursday morning after a mosque in Paterson was evacuated in an apparent "swatting" incident.

SWAT teams surrounded the Islamic Center of Passaic County around 5 a.m. after police received several calls about an armed person going into the mosque, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.

The ATF and FBI also responded to the scene.

New Jersey Mosque Evacuated In Apparent 'Swatting' Incident

Nothing suspicious was found and the all clear was eventually given.

The FBI will investigate who is responsible for calling in the threat, Schuck reported.

"It's potentially very dangerous," said Paterson Police Chief William G. Fraher. "It's foolish, it's foolhardy, it's childish, it's immature and hopefully if the people are identified they are severely dealt with."

New Jersey Mosque Evacuated In Apparent 'Swatting' Incident

Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik called it a traumatic incident.

"It affects everybody," Berdnik said. "It is traumatic and we dealt with it the best way that we could to put everybody at ease."

The incident comes on the 15th day of Ramadan.

Paterson Mosque Threat
Members of Islamic Center of Passaic County hold morning prayer service outside as SWAT teams search building over threat. (credit: Glenn Schuck/1010 WINS)

About 200 men had to continue their morning prayer service outside on the sidewalk as SWAT teams searched the building.

"We're going to pray for them and hopefully they come to their senses," Nabil Abassi, the center's president, said of the pranksters. "We're going to take extra precaution."

Security is being stepped up and will continue at least through the end of Ramadan.

The incident is being investigated as a hate crime, WCBS 880's Levon Putney reported.


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