scheduled tribe. Paul, Min. – The leader of an Illinois anti-government militia group, which officials say was the mastermind of the 2017 Minnesota mosque bombing, was sentenced on Monday to 53 years in prison for an attack that threatened the mosque’s community.
Emily Claire Hari, formerly known as Michael Hari and recently said she was transgender, faced a minimum 30-year term for the attack on the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. Defense lawyers demanded a minimum, but prosecutors demanded life, saying Hari did not claim responsibility for the attack.
There were no casualties in the bombing, but more than a dozen members of the mosque community made statements on Monday about the impact the victim had left behind. US District Judge Donovan Frank said the evidence clearly showed Hari intended to “intimidate, intimidate and terrorize people of Muslim faith”.
“Diversity is the strength of this country,” Frank said. “Anyone who doesn’t understand this doesn’t understand the constitutional promise of this country that brings so many people here.”
“Anything less than 636 months would be a disrespect of the law,” the judge said.
Before the sentencing Hari made a brief statement, “How blessed were the first 47 years of my life, I can’t complain about how the last three looked… looking at my blessed and lucky and happy life I can’t ask the judge for anything else.”
She also said the victims who testified during Monday’s hearing had gone through a “painful ordeal” and wished them “the richest blessings of God in Christ Jesus”.
Frank said he was ready to recommend Hari to go to women’s prison, but added that the Prisons Bureau would decide.
Hari was convicted in December on five counts, including causing damage to property because of his religious character and obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs.
Members of the mosque on Monday asked the judge to commute a sentence of life imprisonment, describing their shock and horror at the attack. Some were afraid to pray there afterwards and did not return. Mothers were afraid to bring their children to the mosque, which also serves as a charter school and community center.
Idris Yusuf said, “I was very scared because I was going to start school soon in the same building and we lived six blocks away from the mosque.” “I was scared because if these people can do the same to our mosque, what is stopping them from even coming to the homes of Muslim people?”
Later, members of the community said they saw 53 years as justice for the attack that has plagued worshipers for more than four years.
“We were looking for life (in prison), but it is something we can solve today,” said community organizer and Dar al-Farooq worshiper Khalid Omar.
Several people gathered in Dar al-Farooq for morning prayers on August 5, 2017, when a pipe bomb was hurled through the window of an imam’s office. A seven-month investigation led officers to Clarence, Illinois, a rural community 120 miles (190 kilometers) south of Chicago where Hari and co-defendants Michael McHorter and Joe Morris lived.
Officials say Hari, 50, led a group called the White Rabbits that included McHorter, Morris and others and that Hari planned to attack the mosque.
Prosecutors said at trial that she was motivated by hatred of Muslims, citing passages from Hari’s manifesto called The White Rabbit Handbook.
McHorter and Morris, who portrayed Hari as a father figure, each pleaded guilty to five counts and testified against him. They await punishment.
It was initially unclear how the White Rabbits found out about Dar al-Farooq, but in the years before the attack the mosque was in the spotlight: some Minnesota youth who had gone to Syria to join the Islamic State group, He worshiped there.
The leaders of the mosque were never accused of any wrongdoing. Hari’s lawyers wrote in court filings that she had been a victim of online misinformation about the mosque.
Assistant Confederate Guard Shannon Elkins also said that gender dysphoria fueled Hari’s “internal conflict”, adding that she wanted to transition but knew she would be ostracized, so she called “freedom fighters or militia men”. A rag-tag group of” and “secretly watched” sex change, ‘transgender surgery,’ and ‘post-op transgender’ on the Internet.”
Prosecutors said gender dysphoria is not an excuse and said using it “is offensive to perpetrate crime.”
Prosecutors called for multiple sentencing increases, arguing that the bombing was a hate crime led by Hari. They also say that Hari interrupted when he tried to escape from custody while being transferred from Illinois to Minnesota for trial in February 2019. Hari refused to try to escape.
Hari, a former sheriff’s deputy and self-described entrepreneur and watermelon farmer, has self-published books including essays on religion, and has floated ideas for the border wall with Mexico. She gained attention on the “Dr. Phil” talk show after she fled to the South American country of Belize in the early 2000s during a custody dispute. He was convicted of child abduction and sentenced to probation.
Prior to his 2018 arrest in the mosque bombing, he used the screen name “Illinois Patriot” to post more than a dozen videos on YouTube, most of which were anti-government monologues.
Hari, McHorter and Morris were also charged with a failed attack on an abortion clinic in Champagne, Illinois, in November 2017. Plea agreements for McHorter and Morris state that the men participated in an armed home invasion in Indiana, and attempted armed robbery or armed robberies of two Walmart stores in Illinois.