MURFREESBORO, Tenn (AP/WMOT) — Opponents and supporters of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro were on hand Thursday for the announcement that a Texas man has been charged with threatening to bomb the Center last fall.
Federal officials announced that two indictments have been filed in Nashville against 24-year-old Javier Alan Correa of Corpus Christi, Texas.
Authorities accuse Correa of calling the mosque September 5, 2010, to say that a bomb would go off in the building on 9/11. Correa is also charged with violating the civil rights of the members of the mosque by threatening to interfere with the free exercise of religious belief.
Mosque opponent Elizabeth Coker turned out for the announcement. She told reporters she hoped federal investigators will look at all possible explanations for vandalism on the construction site, including that mosque members themselves might be to blame.
“We know that there was at least one other mosque in this area that was fire-bombed, and it was a member of that Muslim community itself trying to get sympathy for their cause and the community has always speculated that that might be the reason.”
Jihan Abdulla also attended the press conference. Abdulla, a Muslim, attends Middle Tennessee State University and worships at the mosque when she’s in Murfreesboro.
“Hopefully, this can be shown to other people that vandalism and arson will not be allowed to go forth and that it will ultimately be brought to court and that justice will prevail.”
United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry E. Martin announced the indictments while standing in front of the nearly complete mosque. Martin was backed by agents with the FBI and the ATF, along with Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold.
Martin was blunt in his comments, saying that the Department of Justice intends to “protect the rights afforded under the Constitution to all individuals,” including the “right to exercise the freedom of religious beliefs."
The U.S. Attorney also used the occasion to say that the Department of Justice is closely watching the ongoing court battle over the Islamic Center’s construction.