The hate crime arson attack at a mosque that turns out to be committed by a Muslim. Not the first false flag and certainly wont be the last either. Whenever anything happens to mosques or Muslims people are quick to blame it on Islamophobia and make a big song and dance about it. However often like this, it turns out to be one of their own responsible
A Houston man has been arrested in connection with a suspected arson at a mosque on Christmas Day, but the motive for the crime remains a mystery, with the suspect maintaining he was a regular at the mosque
A spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed that the suspect, 37-year-old Gary Nathaniel Moore of Houston, was arrested early Wednesday. Moore appeared in court at 7 a.m., spokeswoman Nicole Strong said, and bond was set at $100,000.
According to a charging instrument released by the Harris County District Clerk, Moore told investigators at the scene that he has attended the storefront mosque for five years, coming five times per day to pray seven days per week.
Moore said he had been at the mosque earlier on Dec. 25 to pray, and had left at about 2 p.m. to go home, according to authorities and court papers. Moore said he was the last person to leave the mosque and saw no smoke or other signs of fire when he departed, authorities said. He maintained he had returned to the scene after hearing about the fire from a friend.
MJ Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, which operates the mosque, said he was unfamiliar with Moore. “We are just looking into it ourselves,” he said Wednesday morning after learning of the arrest.
“We are really very surprised and saddened by this whole thing,” said Khan.
Using surveillance video from multiple businesses nearby, investigators were able to identify Moore, according to records. A search warrant of his home was conducted, and investigators recovered a backpack and clothing similar to that which was seen in surveillance footage, as well as half of a two-pack of charcoal lighter-fluid bottles that seemed to match another lighter fluid bottle found inside the mosque.
A team of 30 investigators worked around the clock investigating the cause of the fire, which was found to have multiple points of origin. Moore was even interviewed by investigators at the mosque the day of the fire. He had attended services there earlier that day, according to Ruben Hernandez, chief arson investigator with the city’s fire department.
After collecting evidence, reviewing surveillance video and executing a search warrant, the fire department’s arson bureau and the ATF made a joint arrest around 1:30 am Wednesday at Moore’s house, where he lives with his wife and kids, according to Hernandez. Moore was charged with first-degree arson, a felony. A motive has not been determined.
“We view arson as a violent crime,” said Robert Elder, special agent with the Houston field division of the ATF, adding that arson is not just an attack on a building but “an attack on the community.”
Many of the details were still subject to investigation, including the substance used to set the fire, according to Hernandez, who said the district attorney’s office has taken over the investigation.
Mayor Annise Parker called the arrest an “excellent example of quick and efficient police work,” citing collaboration among the fire and police departments as well as federal investigators, the Muslim community and mosque members.
“Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that we have experienced a fire in a local mosque,” she said at a Wednesday press conference.
U.S. Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee said the quick response of the firefighters on Christmas was evidence of the city’s dedication to protecting the community.
“If this was not a hate crime, it should not be exploited as such,” said Green. “If it was, it should be exposed.”
Khan said he was confident the district attorney’s office would ensure justice was carried out and urged the broader Muslim community to resist speculation. Khan said that although Moore had attended services at the mosque on Friday, he would not consider him a regular. He was also not a dues-paying member of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, according to Khan.
While the prosecution continues, Khan said he urged his community to be patient and continue life as usual.
“You have absolutely no reasons to be fearful,” he said, encouraging them to attend services while emphasizing the support from other religious and interfaith groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and Interfaith Ministries.
“This tragedy has definitely brought us together,” he said.
He said his organization has received flowers and donations in the wake of the fire as well as calls of support from across the city and country.
It took about 80 firefighters to put out the two-alarm blaze at the storefront mosque in Savoy Plaza, near Wilcrest Drive and West Bellfort.