Four Illinois men have been arrested on federal charges and authorities say three of them are suspected of taking part in the bombing and attempted bombing of a Minnesota mosque and an Illinois women’s health center last year. No one was injured in either incident.
Michael Hari, 47, a former sheriff’s deputy who was convicted of kidnapping his daughters and taking them to a Mennonite community in Central America more than 10 years ago, is accused of being the leader of a group that also includes Joe Morris, 22; Michael McWhorter, 29; and Ellis Mack, 18, all of Clarence, Illinois.
The four men were charged Tuesday with possession of a machine gun in Illinois, federal prosecutors there say. Hari, McWhorter and Mack were also charged with arson, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. Mack, who is McWhorter’s stepson, is not facing charges in connection to the bombing and attempted bombing.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton called the bombing at the Bloomington mosque, the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center, an act of terrorism. In the Indiana incident, authorities say a pipe bomb was found thrown through a window into a surgical room at the women’s health center, but it did not detonate.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. McWhorter Told the FBI the Men Wanted to ‘Scare’ Muslims Out of the Country & the Bombing Was Meant to Show Them ‘You’re Not Welcome Here, Get the F*ck Out’
The FBI has connected Michael Hari, Mark McWhorter and Joe Morris to the bombing of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, on August 5, 2017, and the attempted bombing of the Women’s Health Practice in Champaign, Illinois, on November 7, 2017, according to court documents.
According to the FBI, an explosive device was thrown through the window of the mosque about 5 a.m. Five people were inside the building, but none were injured, though the blast did cause extensive damage. A witness said he exited the mosque after prayer and heard glass breaking while walking to his car. He looked up and saw a man running from the building to a truck. He then saw the truck leaving at a high rate of speed. The explosion was captured on security cameras inside the building.
On November 7, an employee of the Women’s Health Practice said she went to work and found a broken window, glass on the floor and a device, which appeared to be an explosive device, on the inside of a surgical room. The Women’s Health Practice provides women’s medical services, including abortions, the FBI said. Police responded and the device, a “segment of PVC pipe with a plastic cap on one end and duct tape over the other end, was rendered safe. Inside the device was thermite, a pyrotechnic compound, along with a magnesium strip. Investigators believe the device was designed to burn and noted it was located in a surgical room that contained oxygen tanks.
Investigators received tips from two confidential informants that led them to Hari and the other men. FBI agents interviewed McWhorter on March 10 and he admitted to his participation in the bombing and attempted bombing, according to court documents.
McWhorter told the FBI that it was Hari’s idea to target the mosque. McWhorter said they weren’t trying to kill anyone, but wanted to “scare them out of the country,” referring to Muslims, according to court documents. He also said the bombing was meant to “show them, ‘hey, you’re not welcome here, get the f*ck out.’”
You can read the criminal complaint below:
2. Hari, Who Ran for Ford County Sheriff in 1998 as a Libertarian, Received Probation for Abducting His Daughters in a Case That Was Featured on ‘Dr. Phil’
Hari worked as a Ford County sheriff’s deputy for about 18 months and previously owned a gun store in Paxton, Illinois, according to the Ford County Record. He unsuccessful ran for Ford County Sheriff in 1998 as a libertarian candidate, the newspaper reported.
Hari is a member of the Old German Baptist Brethran, a denomination that wears the plain cloths of the Amish, but allows for more modern amenities, according to the Chicago Tribune. He made national headlines in 2005 and 2006 when he fled to Mennonite communities in Mexico and Belize during a custody dispute with his ex-wife, taking his two young daughters with him. The story was featured on several episodes of the “Dr. Phil Show,” and he eventually returned to the U.S. with his daughters. The reunion and an interview featuring Hari and his ex-wife was recorded by “Dr. Phil.”
A jury found him guilty of child abduction in 2006, according to The News-Gazette. He faced up to 3 years in prison, and prosecutors asked for a sentence of 6 months, but he received only 30 months of probation.
3. He Was Accused of Attacking His Neighbor in July & Trying to Frame Him by Placing Explosives on His Property
Hari was arrested in July 2017 in Ford County, Illinois, and charged with assaulting his neighbor, according to the Ford County Record.
According to court documents, Hari tried to frame his neighbor in February 2018 to make him look bad before his upcoming court appearance in that case. He and the other men planted explosives in a suitcase and a bag on the neighbor’s property in Clarence, the FBI says. Hari then sent a tip to ATF about the explosives.
Hari was arrested by the FBI on March 13 while he was traveling to a court appearance in Ford County in the assault case.
4. Hari Launched a ‘Global Security Firm’ & Was Bidding to Build Trump’s Mexican Border Wall With a Plan to Make It a Tourist Attraction Like the Great Wall of China
Hari has recently drawn attention to himself after submitting one of about 200 bids to build President Donald Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall. He started a “global security firm,” called Crisis Resolution Security Services Inc. to make the bid. You can watch their video presentation on the project above.
“We would look at the wall as not just a physical barrier to immigration but also as a symbol of the American determination to defend our culture, our language, our heritage, from any outsiders,” Hari told the Chicago Tribune in April 2017.
He said his proposal would include a narrow pedestrian roadway in between two walls that could be a tourist attraction like the Great Wall of China.
“They can use it for patrolling, but it’s more for the public,” he told the Tribune. “People can go up there, walk it or bicycle it. We’re probably the only ones who have submitted a proposal making it recreational.”
Hari told the Tribune he went to graduate school for criminal justice at the University of Central Texas near the border, where his mother’s family lived, and took some classes in security barriers and construction. Hari said his experience in Belize, where he fled with his daughters, gives him a unique perspective.
“I was an illegal alien for almost a year in Belize,” Hari told the Tribune. “I understand why people break the law. I have a great deal of compassion for people in this situation.”
5. McWhorter & Mack Told the FBI That the Men Posed as Police Officers to Rob a ‘Drug Dealer’ in Indiana & Also Committed 3 Walmart Robberies
Mack and McWhorter told the FBI that the four men also committed a series of crimes in Indiana and Illinois, according to court documents obtained by Heavy. It is not clear if they will be facing charges in connection to those incidents.
McWhorter told the FBI that in December 2017, the men went to the home of an alleged “Hispanic drug dealer” because they thought they could steal cash from him, according to the criminal complaint, which you can read above. They posed as police officers executing a search warrant. They were armed with “automatic weapons.” McWhorter said they did not find any cash.
The FBI said the men also took part in three Walmart robberies in Illinois.