Summary:Cnn.Saying they will not tolerate interference with the right to worship, federal prosecutors announced Thursday that a Texas man has been charged with calling in a bomb threat to an Islamic center that is building a mosque in Tennessee
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
surrendered, called the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro and left a voice message
on September 5 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 said the
indictment showed that the United States is a "nation of law."
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"We are used to messages of 'go back home' and
'you worship a false God,' " Bahloul said. "This message is
Bahloul turned the phone recording over to
"Today's indictment should send a message loud
and clear," Martin said. "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
The construction site for the mosque has been
vandalized multiple times, Martin said.
Federal agencies offered a $20,000 reward in their
investigation of an August 2010 arson that damaged construction equipment at
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has existed for
more than a decade, but the fight over the new mosque erupted when planning
commissioners approved the 52,960-square-foot building on Veals Road.
The backlash was stinging and included lawsuits and
A sign announcing the mosque was spray-painted with
the words "Not Welcome."
A Rutherford County judge ruled last month that
plans for the building are now "void and of no effect."
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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 mosque has continued. It might
be completed by July 20, in time to observe Ramadan, Islam's holy month, if the
Islamic center receives the permit.
Bahloul said the majority of people in Rutherford
County are accepting of the Muslim community.
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, the U.S.
attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said he could not comment on the
specifics of the case against Correa.
A Corpus Christi phone number for Correa was not
operating Thursday afternoon. A message left with the federal public defender's
office was not immediately returned.
Bahloul said he had mixed feelings over the charges.
"I feel that American values prevailed, but I
feel bad for his family," he said