Illinois men sentenced for role in 2017 Bloomington mosque bombing

Two Illinois men who were involved in the 2017 bombing of a Bloomington mosque have been sentenced to approximately 16 and 14 years in federal prison, respectively, following a plea for leniency from mosque leadership and other faith leaders. 

Judge Donovan W. Frank Tuesday morning handed down a nearly 16-year sentence to Michael McWhorter and an approximately 14-year sentence to Joe Morris, 23. During  the attack on the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in August of 2017, Morris smashed the window of the iman's office with a hammer, and then McWhorter threw a lit pipe bomb through the gap, according to court documents.  


The pipe bomb exploded, causing extensive damage to the imam’s office and fire and smoke damage throughout the Islamic center. Several worshippers were inside the building at the time, but no one was injured or killed.

McWhorter's defense attorney had argued for a more lenient sentence of 10 years because McWhorter and Morris cooperated with prosecutors in their case against the alleged ring leader and mastermind, Emily Hari (formerly known as Michael Hari). Prosecutors had asked for a minimum 15-year sentence for both men.

Two men, Joe Morris (left) and Michael McWhorter (right) were sentenced Tuesday for their role in the bombing of a mosque in Bloomington in 2017.

Leaders of the Islamic Center joined with other faith leaders in an open letter to the judge calling for leniency, 

"While Emily Hari has shown zero remorse, Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris have taken accountability for their actions and have expressed profound regret, as well as a marked understanding of how they were able to become radicalized to the point of committing this heinous crime. We believe that this is not a hollow attempt to accept responsibility in exchange for a lighter sentence but a deeper change in their being after coming out from under the influence of an evil manipulator," the letter read. 

Before the sentencing, McWhorter pleaded for a lenient sentence, saying he had picked the window of the imam's office because it was dark, and he hoped no one would be hurt. 

"I am not a bad person. Did I make huge mistake? Yes … should I be punished? Absolutely," he said. 

Judge Frank told the courtroom he went with a 16-year sentence to account for all of McWhorter's crimes with the "White Rabbits," a white supremacist militia founded and led by Hari. Frank said that in sentencing Morris to a slightly lesser sentence of 14-years, he considered Morri's cooperation, mental health issues and the lack of a father figure in his life that was filled by "the evil" influence of McWhorter and Hari.

Prosecutors alleged that following the mosque bombing, the group committed a string of "terroristic crimes" targeting their "perceived "enemies." 

McWhorter and Morris detailed the groups' activities to investigators, including an unsuccessful plan to firebomb a women's health clinic and abortion provider in Illinois, an incident in which they posed as police officers while invading the home of an immigrant family, zipping tying the victims while searching their home, a robbery a Walmart store with replica guns and attempted to extort a Canadian railway company. 

Hari was sentenced to 55 years in prison last August.