Three held in mosque fire

By Cathy Logg

Herald Writer

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Three people are in custody for what police say is a hate crime after a mosque here was vandalized and set ablaze early Friday.

Two brothers, 15 and 17, were booked into the Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett, and a 30-year-old man was booked into Snohomish County Jail, all on investigation of malicious mischief, malicious harassment and second-degree arson, Mountlake Terrace police Cmdr. Mike Mitchell said.

The three lived in the neighborhood. Officers arrested them after a police dog tracked them to their home, he said.

A neighbor who witnessed the incident at about 12:35 a.m. forced his way into the Masjid Omar Al Farooq Mosque at 56th Avenue W and 238th Street SW and put out the fire, he said.

The vandals broke eight to 10 windows, reached inside and ignited a curtain, Mitchell said.

"They thought they were protecting America in going over and destroying the mosque," Mitchell said. "They’re definitely not history majors. America was founded to protect religious freedoms."

They reportedly told police they had been drinking.

Mitchell estimated damage at about $8,000, saying it was "fairly minimal" thanks to the neighbor’s quick response.

One of the youths is a registered sex offender, Mitchell said. He had no information on whether the other two suspects had criminal records.

Police worked with Snohomish County Fire District 1 personnel. They also notified the FBI, which will join in the investigation because it is being considered a hate crime, Mitchell said.

You can call Herald Writer Cathy Logg at 425-339-3437

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