Culture

Truck driver pleads guilty to setting Ohio mosque on fire

Mosque Arson
The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo was founded in 1954 and built this Middle Eastern-style mosque in suburban Toledo, Ohio in 1983. A fire that officials labeled as arson damaged the building’s interior on Sept. 30, 2012. It will be at least three months before damage from the blaze and water from sprinklers is repaired, mosque officials said. RNS photo by David Yonke

TOLEDO, Ohio (RNS) An Indiana man who said he gets all his information about Islam from talk radio and Fox News has pleaded guilty to setting fire to a mosque in September, but local Muslims voiced concern there may be more people like him out there.

Mosque Arson

Randolph Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Ind., photographed by a surveillance camera at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. Linn pleaded guilty on Dec. 19 to setting an arson fire at the mosque on Sept. 30. RNS photo courtesy Perrysbury Township Police

Randolph Linn, a 52-year-old truck driver and former Marine, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Toledo on Wednesday (Dec. 19) to federal counts of intentionally damaging religious property, using fire or explosives in commission of a felony, and using a firearm to commit a crime of violence.

Linn is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison and to pay restitution of $1 million.

“Yes, justice has been served and the Islamic center will be rebuilt and we will meet inside it and continue to do so. But the actual problem hasn’t been dealt with,” said S. Zaheer Hasan, spokesman for the United Muslim Association of Toledo.

He said the real problem is growing animosity toward Muslims. “The arson attack was an isolated incident but it was a product of that hatred,” he said.

Mosque Arson

The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo was founded in 1954 and built this Middle Eastern-style mosque in suburban Toledo, Ohio in 1983. A fire that officials labeled as arson damaged the building’s interior on Sept. 30, 2012. It will be at least three months before damage from the blaze and water from sprinklers is repaired, mosque officials said. RNS photo by David Yonke

Mahjabeen Islam, president of the damaged Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, said Linn showed no remorse during the hearing.

Linn told Judge Jack Zouhary that he drank 45 beers before seeing a wounded U.S. soldier on television and spontaneously deciding to drive 82 miles from his home in St. Joe, Ind., to the Toledo suburb of Perrysburg, Ohio.

Linn, who had seen the roadside mosque while hauling his truck, took three firearms with him and filled three gas cans at a gas station, authorities said.

According to the mosque president, Linn told the judge he didn’t know any Muslims personally. “I only know what I hear on the radio and see on Fox News,” he said, according to Islam.

“My feeling is that the media needs to be more responsible,” Islam said. “The combination of ignorance about Muslims and Islam, and hate and alcohol, and then whipping up all of this hatred in the media, is a lethal combination.”

The judge told Linn: “You are no better than the terrorists or extremists you sought to punish.”

Islam said video showed Linn walking through the empty mosque with a gun on Sept. 30 before pouring gasoline in the prayer room and setting it ablaze.

“Had somebody been there, I dread to think about what could have happened because he had a gun,” she said. “If people had been there, it might have been like the Sikh temple shooting (in Wisconsin).”

(David Yonke is the editor of Toledo Faith & Values.)

KRE/AMB END YONKE

About the author

David Yonke

David Yonke is the editor and community manager of ToledoFAVS. A veteran reporter, editor, and author, his name is familiar name to many area readers for his many years at The Blade newspaper including the last 12 years as religion editor.

6 Comments

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  • “”But the actual problem hasn’t been dealt with,” said S. Zaheer Hasan, spokesman for the United Muslim Association of Toledo.”

    What this guy did was the wrong way to go about stopping the advance of supremacist islam. But what we’re going to see as a result of his misguided actions is more islam supremacist laws. It’s already started, even in this article. By singling out Fox News, these mooslems are trying to bring negative attention to them, as if they’re somehow connected to a a “hate group.” It’s standard information warfare. Whoever controls the dialogue and the flow of information wins the battle.

    What this guy did was wrong, yes, but he was caught, convicted and sentenced. It’s no different than any other crime, why should it be treated differently? Mooslems want everyone to believe that there’s some undercurrent of widespread hate among the population which is, at any moment, going to overwhelm them with violence. Only special laws, they say, aimed at elevating them as special, protected citizens will protect them physically and protect their special civil rights. How about the stoning of Christians by mooslems in Dearborn, Michigan? The local chief of police, another mooslem, had the Christians arrested!!! Where were these Christians civil rights? How were these people protected? But what we’re going to see is Obama working overtime to pass special legislation in favor of mooslems and further diminishing the standing of Christians in society.

  • The judge told Linn: “You are no better than the terrorists or extremists you sought to punish.”

    Umm, excuse me judge, but Mr. Linn didn’t fly occupied jetliners into occupied office buildings on 9/11/2001. You should reflect on that date as who the REAL terrorrists were.

  • After some 15 Crusades , Christians continue to fight the Muslems in Iraq, Aftganstam and in many other Muslem countries. In each of the countries, Muslems continue to burn down Christian churches and kill Christian famlies. Today there are some 1,200 Islamic Mosques in the USA. Former President George W. Bush told America that no American will be safe until all Muslems are dead. Burning down a Islamic Mosque is not killing Muslems, but evening the score.

  • Having attended the inter faith gathering at the Mosque, there were people from all parts of the world and from many different faiths and all spoke of spreading a message of understanding, of each other, and to better with each other. Media is there to report to us. Here, we have media outlets that have fanned the flames and encouraged many Parrots. When we accept that people will commit acts of violence and be from any culture, faith, country, etc., we will understand, we are not that different after all.

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