Minnesota mosque attack: 'White Rabbits' militiamen plead guilty

Comstock Thinkstock

Comstock Thinkstock

According to the plea agreements, the men were headed toward Minnesota when Hari told McWhorter and Morris that he had a pipe bomb in the vehicle and they were going to bomb a mosque.

Two Illinois militia members pleaded guilty Thursday in the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque, admitting that they hoped the attack would scare Muslims into leaving the country.

The admissions by Michael McWhorter, 29 and Joe Morris, 23, were through guilty pleas to charges stemming from a crime spree that included two bombing attempts, armed robberies, and the attempted extortion of a railway company. Prosecutors say the men and another man accused in the case were part of an IL militia group that called itself "White Rabbits". "It took me back to that day".

McWhorter, Morris and Hari were arrested in March past year in connection with the explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center.

In separate hearings in a St. Paul federal courtroom Thursday, Morris said he broke a window and McWhorter admitted throwing a bomb inside the mosque. McWhorter lit the fuse of the bomb, which exploded and caused damage to the building, but did not injure anyone.

Jaylani Hussein is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota.

The charges of possession of a machine gun - actually two guns converted to fire in full automatic mode - relates to a period between October 2017 to February 27, 2018, in Clarence. They wanted for the Muslim community to fear.

McWhorter and Morris admitted to traveling hundreds of miles from IL to Minnesota, leaving their cellphones at home and avoiding toll roads, to carry out the attack on the mosque.

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The Muslim community "has come under serious attack by white nationalists, white supremacist groups and militia groups across this country", Hussein said.

"These militia groups have zeroed in on the Muslim community", Hussein told AFP.

In separate hearings Thursday in federal court in St. Paul, the men pleaded guilty to several charges filed against them in Minnesota and IL past year. Morris' attorney, Robert Richman, said Morris merely followed the lead of a man he had known as a father figure since he was 9.

Morris and McWhorter admitted they traveled to the mosque from central IL in a rental truck with Hari, avoiding toll roads along the way so as not to have their license plates identified.

Police and prosecutors think Hari was the mastermind behind the "Patriot Freedom Fighters" group, which changed its name to "White Rabbits" after the mosque bombing. Joe Morris, as the plea makes clear, knew nothing about the Dar al-Farooq Mosque.

The attempted arson happened November 7, 2017, at Women's Health Practice, 2125 S. Neil St., C. An employee found a broken window and a homemade pipe bomb that apparently failed to ignite on the floor of a surgery room. "Knew nothing about a bombing until about an hour before this bad event occurred".

Hari remains in the Livingston County Jail in the Central District of IL and is now set to be tried in Urbana beginning July 15.

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