A mosque in south Minneapolis suffered tens of thousands of dollars in damages after a thief broke in and went on a destructive rampage on Sunday night.
The incident, which was caught on surveillance video, occurred at Tawfiq Islamic Center at the corner of Minnehaha Avenue and East 24th Street in the Seward neighborhood. It began around 11:17 p.m. and lasted until around midnight.
The suspect reportedly forced his way into the building, breaking glass and damaging several doors. He also allegedly stole money from multiple safes.
The attack resulted in losses and damages amounting to more than $50,000. Since it happened in a place of worship, police are investigating the break-in as a possible hate crime.
“Preliminary information indicates that theft was the motivation for this burglary. However, due to the location of the burglary, MPD investigators will evaluate available evidence for indications that this burglary and property damage was motivated by hate or bias,” Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson Garrett Parten said in a statement.
The man captured by the mosque’s cameras is currently the only suspect. Youth Coordinator Ahmed Mussa, who was the last to leave the mosque at around 10:45 p.m., reportedly had seen a man on a bicycle loitering nearby.
“When we looked at the footage, we knew it was him,” Ahmed told Sahan Journal. “He was just waiting for someone to leave.”
The suspect was described to be a white male in his late 20’s to early 30’s. The video shows him wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt.
The incident marks the fourth attack on a Minnesota mosque — and the first for Tawfiq Islamic Center — in 2022. While the damages can be repaired, the community’s sense of safety has been gravely compromised.
“This attack, as simple as it is, is an attack against all places of worship,” Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota (CAIR-MN), told reporters. “No one expects this type of an attack, but when it does come, the impact exists far beyond.”
A GoFundMe page has been organized to help the mosque recover from its losses. As of this writing, the campaign has raised $5,807.
CAIR-MN and the Islamic Society of Minnesota are offering a $6,000 reward for information that leads to the suspect. Anyone with knowledge is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or www.CrimeStoppersMN.org.
Featured Image via Council on American-Islamic Relations – Minnesota (CAIR-MN)