Man Charged With Bomb Threat Against Tennessee Islamic Center
Construction site has been vandalized multiple times, including a 2010 arson
Phil Gast CNN
June 21, 2012
Javier Alan Correa, 24, of Corpus Christi, was indicted on two charges, including a civil rights violation, by a federal grand jury in Nashville, according to U.S. attorney Jerry E. Martin.
According to the indictment, Correa, who had not yet surrendered, called the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro and left a voice message on September 5, 2011, saying, among other things, "On September 11, 2011, there's going to be a bomb in the building." That date was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Imam Ossama Bahloul of the Islamic center told CNN the indictment showed that the United States is a "nation of law."
"We are used to messages of 'go back home' and 'you worship a false God,'" Bahloul said. "This message is different."
Bahloul turned the phone recording over to authorities.
"Today's indictment should send a message loud and clear," Martin told reporters. "The Department of Justice will not tolerate violence or threat of violence against the Muslim community here in Murfreesboro. If you engage in this type of illegal conduct we will come after you. The right to worship and assemble is a bedrock guarantee of this great nation."
The construction site for the new mosque has been vandalized multiple times, Martin said.
Federal agencies offered a $20,000 reward in their investigation of an August 2010 arson fire that damaged construction equipment at the site.
The Muslim community in Murfreesboro has been engaged with a long-running battle with critics over its new mosque, which might be completed by July 20, in time to observe Ramadan, Islam's holy month.
A Rutherford County judge last month ruled plans for the mosque, previously approved by a planning commission, are now "void and of no effect."
Chancellor Robert Corlew said the planning commission violated state law by not providing proper public notice. The county has since been blocked from granting an occupancy permit.
Construction on the new mosque has continued.
Correa is charged with one count of intentionally obstructing by threat of force the free exercise of religious beliefs and one count of using an instrument of interstate commerce to communicate a threat to destroy a building by means of an explosive device.
He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for one count and 10 years for the second, as well as a fine of up to $250,000 for each offense, officials said.
David Boling, spokesman for Martin, who is U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said he could not comment on the specifics of the case against Correa.
Bahloul said he had mixed feelings over the charges.
"I feel that American values prevailed, but I feel bad for his family," he said.
CNN's Moni Basu and Lateef Mungin contributed to this report.