Surveillance video shows suspects in Murfreesboro mosque vandalism

Middle TN

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Surveillance cameras from inside the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro caught the suspects who vandalized the mosque earlier this week.

Sgt. Dan Goodwin told News 2 the video was shot from inside the lobby and you can see people moving just outside the door.

One man is shorter with a muscular build and wearing a spray-painting respirator with some sort of hood. He’s in a tight, short-sleeved jumpsuit with a patch on the right shoulder and is wearing dark athletic shoes with reflective tape.

The second man is much taller and husky and was wearing some kind of werewolf Halloween mask. He’s wearing a T-shirt with a graphic on the back, long shorts, and boots.

“This second man has distinctive lower legs that are huge,” Sgt. Goodwin said.

Police in Murfreesboro are hoping someone may recognize these men from local fitness, MMA or traditional martial arts businesses or gyms.

Anyone who recognizes the men should contact Murfreesboro police at 615-893-1311.

Members of the Islamic Center came together Friday for prayer.

“Friday prayer is similar to the Christian prayer on Sunday,” said ICM Board of Trustee member Saleh Sbenaty.

But on the minds of many is what happened earlier this week, when vandals left bacon on the front door and obscene graffiti on the building and basketball court.

“Allah is the Arabic name for God, so if you are Christian, if you are Jew, then the name of God is Allah, so when they say ‘F-Allah,’ that means they really didn’t understand what that means. Our God is their God,” he said.

Sbenaty told News 2 the vandals didn’t achieve what they hoped. He said this has brought the community together.

“We are really heart-warmed by the support we have received it’s just incredible,” Sbenaty said. “This is what we know Murfreesboro and the people of Murfreesboro all about and they are way above hatred and negative messages.”

Mosque members said the vandals need to be educated about Muslims and Islam.

“Whenever these type things happen it very unfortunate,” member Ausia Malik said. “It’s something that you know we always dread that something like this can happen. But just as we have uneducated people that you know try to represent this faith we know when these acts of vandalism happen it’s not a representation of the community we live in as well, and we just consider those people uneducated as well.

This is not the first time the ICM has been a target. Several years ago someone called and left a message on an answering message threatening to blow up the place, and then back in 2010, someone set fire to several pieces of construction equipment when the mosque was being built. That arson has yet to be solved.

“We have been going through intimidation, harassment, bomb threats, arson, lawsuits and so on, but this is in particular very painful because it cut through the heart of who we are and what we believe in. It shows the uneducated message these people are giving to others,” Sbenaty said.

The ATF told News 2 the arson case is still pending and as any new information from the public will be reviewed.

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