Tag Archives: Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center

‘Person of interest’ in custody for Molotov cocktail attacks

| smosco@queenscourier.com


A man is currently being held for questioning by authorities in connection with a string of five fire bombings, four in Queens and one on Long Island, being investigated as possible hate crimes.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other Queens elected officials, gathered at one of the targets, the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center in Jamaica, to condemn the attacks.

“We currently have a person of interest in custody,” said Kelly at the press conference on Tuesday, January 3. Police linked the unnamed suspect’s vehicle to a bodega on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica where he was thrown out on December 27 after the owner suspected him of shoplifting. As he was pushed out of the store, the man allegedly threatened the owner with retaliation.

That bodega was later firebombed, along with four other targets, with a Molotov cocktail made from a glass Starbucks bottle – one of the items the man in question was suspected of shoplifting.

According to police, the incidents occurred between 8 and 10:15 p.m. on Sunday, January 1. No injuries were reported and damage to the mosque was minimal. On Monday, January 2, police released a sketch of the suspect and video showing the man hurling a flaming bottle at a home on 170th Street that doubles as a Hindu place of worship.

The other two targets were private homes, with one house sustaining heavy fire damage in the living room, though no injuries were reported. But according to Kelly, three young children were in the residence at the time of the attack – a fact which could very well up the charges.

After meeting with representatives of the mosque and elected officials, Bloomberg said that the city will not tolerate violence, whether it was a senseless act or a more targeted hate crime.

“In either case, one attack is too many,” he said. “We all know that we are in this together and discrimination against one is discrimination against many.”

Borough President Helen Marshall called it a “sad day” and said that she was extremely upset by the thought of attacks like these happening in a borough as diverse as Queens.

“This man must be punished by the fullest extent of the law,” she said. “To throw bombs without knowing who is inside – it’s just wrong, and it’s not Queens.”

Condemn Hate

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

We were shocked — and honestly very saddened — to learn of the string of Molotov cocktail attacks happening right in our own backyard.
Instead of beginning a new year with peace, it seems Queens ushered in 2012 with hate, especially since one of the targets of the attacks was the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center in Jamaica.

The other attacks occurred at a bodega and two private homes in the Jamaica area. And a fifth incident on Long Island is being investigated to see if it is related.

Though thankfully there were no reports of injuries — and the 80 or so people worshipping in the Center on New Year’s Day were able to evacuate, with just damage done to the building’s facade by the homemade explosives — the incidents, reportedly being investigated by the NYPD as hate crimes, frayed the nerves of many.

“We live in the U.S. This is our country,” said a man who attends the Center in published reports.

He’s right.

Not only is it 2012, but we live in the United States, a bastion of freedom and rights. And Queens is home to over 2 million people, 47.1 percent of whom are foreign born, 54.4 percent of whom speak a language other than English at home, according to the 2010 census.

So in this day and age, why did this happen?

Why are there still people who hate?

We applaud the NYPD for their increased vigilance, their handling of the situation and their sensitivity, each and every day, to the cultures of Queens.

And we urge whoever is responsible for these heinous crimes — or anyone with information — to come forward.

Please, the people of Queens deserve to live in peace, to live the American Dream.