Sun-Times: Authorities investigate online threats against Bridgeview mosque
Authorities said Thursday that they are investigating a series of online threats made this week against a Bridgeview mosque. The threats, which began as a status update on the Facebook page of a teenage boy, threatened to put local Muslims “in check” for the actions of extremist followers of Islam on the other side of the globe.
“F – - – - – - Muslims burn down christian churches in France! We got to start breaking some rules putting these n – - – - – in check,” the unidentified teen wrote, according to a redacted copy of the post obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bridgeview spokesman Ray Hanania said police launched an investigation with the help of the FBI on Tuesday after they were alerted to the postings, though a spokeswoman for the FBI would not confirm their involvement. Hanania said a Facebook “friend” of the teen saw the postings and alerted authorities.
While the post started as a generalized threat against Muslims, discourse grew more specific in subsequent comments.
“I’d like to start with that mosque down the street . . . Eye for an eye tooth for a tooth,” the teen continued.
Pretty soon a different friend of his chimed in: “Haha . . . yep . . . maybe we should walk down the middle of the street without a worry in the world like they do shootin every one of them!!!!”
Eventually it was suggested that the two target a mosque near 87th and Harlem, according to the posting.
That effectively identified their theoretical target as the Mosque Foundation, which is close to that intersection, said Ahmed Rehab, executive director for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“You have to be vigilant and take things seriously,” said Oussama Jammal, vice president of the mosque’s board of directors. The threat, he said, “had specifics that made it very alarming.”
“We have a large community, lots of children and a school — obviously more than enough to make anyone concerned about the safety of children,” Jammal said.
Rehab said his organization sent out a community alert about the threats Thursday night because it is important to combat “this conflagration between a terrorist ideology and Muslims or Islam.”
Bridgeview Police Chief Walter Klimek took the threats “very seriously,” Hanania said. He added that police have identified the teen behind the posting but have not made an arrest.
The teen might be a little disappointed to hear Bridgeview police are on the case, according to the posting.
By targeting a mosque, he speculated that it “will be in the FBI’s hands to catch me.”
Then he added: “Something a little cooler than the Bridgeview police.”