BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) - In the aftermath of the bombing of Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, there are moments of tremendous hope.
“I wanted to show our face to show people care about you and you are part of the community,” said Dawn Strommen, a member of Plymouth Lutheran Church.
Strommen stopped by the mosque with a check to help rebuild the center. Others brought flowers, and all offered solidarity.
“We have compassion and we learn to know each other,” she said. “Why create fear? Love overcomes fear; this is what we believe.”
On Twitter, the FBI claimed it was “all hands on deck,” offering a censored photo of its command center.
The FBI also said in a statement that they want to “assure the community that this investigation is our top priority and we continue to work to determine who carried out this crime and why.”
The organization is also using the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, and specialty teams including Special Agent Bomb Techs and Evidence Response Teams.
“While it is fortunate that no lives were lost, and the physical damage is reparable, the FBI recognizes the pain and anger of our communities anytime a place of worship is attacked and we will work hard to hold those responsible accountable,” the statement said.
Politicians have also been to the mosque, including Gov. Dayton who called the explosion “an act of terrorism.”
“We’ve had some threats and comments,” said Mohamed Omar, executive director at Dar Al-Farooq. “People walk to our door, bang on our door and had foul language. With the country’s climate and rhetoric going on, we feel [we’re] in the middle of the tension.”
Omar cited hateful comments on Facebook including some that read, “Islam needs to be eliminated like the black plague,” or “maybe they will start leaving now. Keep up the good work.”
The mosque also has a neighbor who has a website dedicated to a long-standing feud with the Islamic center over zoning issues and its plan for a daycare. They say this neighbor has called police dozens of times to complain about parking issues and their use of a neighborhood park.
While not explicitly racist, they see it as a kind of harassment, a way to say “you’re not welcome here,” even as so many say just the opposite.
Meanwhile, Strommen and others push back against the hate.
“Because of you, bad guys will always feel isolated. Thank you. We do not feel alone,” she said.
Statement from Rick Thornton, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Minneapolis
"It has been three days since the detonation of an explosive device at the Dar Al Farooq Center in Bloomington, MN. While there are many questions I cannot answer due to our ongoing investigation, I want to assure the community that this investigation is our top priority and we continue to work to determine who carried out this crime and why. These are important questions, and it will take time to develop the information necessary to answer them.
"The FBI is working hard to identify those responsible for this terrible crime and to understand why they did it. Every available resource has been and will continue to be focused on this case until it is solved. Those resources include: A Command Center, staffed by dozens of dedicated FBI Agents, Analysts and Support Professionals; The FBI Laboratory in Quantico, VA; and FBI Specialty teams including our Special Agent Bomb Techs and Evidence Response Teams.
"While it is fortunate that no lives were lost, and the physical damage is reparable, the FBI recognizes the pain and anger of our communities anytime a place of worship is attacked and we will work hard to hold those responsible accountable. I want to personally thank the community for their cooperation and the critical information that they have provided to our investigators. Please continue to assist us going forward. Remember that no shred of information is too small. If you believe you may have information that may help us, please call 1-800-CALL-FBI and follow the prompts."
Statement from Bloomington City Council
“On behalf of the City Council and the residents of Bloomington, we would like all of the people who worship at Dar Al Farooq Community Center and the Muslim community here in Bloomington and in Minnesota to know that we stand in unity with you. Our thoughts are with you and those whose lives were impacted by the disgraceful act of violence this past Saturday. When a criminal act of this nature is committed against one of us in this community, it is committed against all of us.
“Dar Al Farooq came to this community about six years ago and acquired the property and the building of what was formerly Concordia High School in northeast Bloomington. It is the second Islamic place of worship in the city. This faith-based organization is thriving, as demonstrated by the level of participation in the center’s activities.
“Bloomington is a great city and a place where everyone should feel welcome. A city where we acknowledge our differences and want all individuals to feel safe and respected. We support everyone’s right to safely worship the faith of their choosing. We embrace the city’s growing diversity with inclusion and equity at the core.
“We will continue our work through the Government Alliance on Race and Equity and the work we are doing to advance the City Council's strategic priorities of Inclusion and Equity, and Community Image. This work is even more timely and relevant in light of this past weekend’s event. More than a year ago, the City Council was united in these issues that were important in drafting a strategic plan for the future. As Council representatives, we are elected to serve everyone in our community, which means we are here to serve everyone in our community.
“Whoever has damaged Dar Al Farooq Community Center and would willfully try to harm members of our community will be held accountable. The damage was caused by an improvised explosive device and was contained to a portion of the building. Thankfully, no one was injured. Because this is a federal crime, the FBI is the lead agency in this investigation. They are working in cooperation with Bloomington Police and other law enforcement partners to solve this crime and bring whoever was responsible to justice.
“We are so pleased to see that many Bloomington residents have already responded by showing their support for Dar Al Farooq. We ask all members of this community to stand as one Bloomington with kindness, compassion, respect and understanding of one another. We do not go it alone to make a better community; we come together as one. No act of violence will keep us from our goals, but only make us stronger and more committed for a better future for everyone.”