ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Albuquerque police are on the hunt for the suspect who threw a Molotov cocktail at an Islamic center in Albuquerque. The incident happened between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Islamic Center of New Mexico near Yale and Avenida Caesar Chavez.
Police said the device did ignite for a short time, causing some smoke damage to the exterior of the mosque.
No injuries were reported, but Shakir Farid Abdullah just arrived after the danger to prepare for the Islamic New Year, which begins Friday.
“You could still smell it fresh, literally fresh,” Farid Abdullah said.
The president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, Dr. Abdel Rahman Emawy, said, “I feel actually shock when I heard this.”
As police put yellow crime scene tape up around the damage, members watched and already concluded the motive.
“Some people just have hate towards the Muslims,” Rahman Emawy said.
“It could be possibly current events,” Farid Abdullah said.
The Molotov cocktail incident in Albuquerque came two days after a radical Muslim convert’s rampage in Ottawa, Canada.
An Albuquerque police spokesman said, nothing is ruled out at this point.
“You never know with these kinds of things. It could be coordinated. It could be a single person that’s upset,” said Officer Tanner Tixier.
The Albuquerque Police Department is the lead agency investigating the incident, but the FBI is offering support to APD and the Albuquerque Fire Department arson investigators.
“We want to make sure this person, whoever it is, is off the street and doesn’t have a chance to do something like this again,” said Frank Fisher, the local FBI media coordinator.
On Friday, investigators sifted through each piece of glass looking for critical clues pointing to the person responsible.
“I would say to the person who committed this dark deed that he should repent,” said Muhammad Yusef, a guest member of the mosque who arrived in Albuquerque three days ago.
SURVEILLANCE VIDEO INVESTIGATION
APD and the FBI say they’re not investigating the fire bomb at the mosque as a hate crime just yet, but mosque members who’ve seen the surveillance video tell News 13 that the attacker knew exactly what he was setting on fire.
A few people at the mosque told News 13 on Friday afternoon that the video shows a car pull up to a street corner near the mosque, then a man get out and run towards the mosque, all while lighting a Molotov cocktail.
“No… no.. I love being here in Albuquerque,” said Andy Brooks.
An Islamic Center member, Andy Brooks says he hasn’t changed his mind about Albuquerque. However, looking at the latest crime targeting his place of worship is still painful, and it’s not the first time.
“I hate to say it, it’s starting to get pretty regular,” said Brooks.
The incendiary device hit a wall along the Islamic Center where women and children meet.
“We don’t partake in violence, We don’t condone it. And we speak out against it,” said Shakir Farid Abdullah, a member at the Islamic Center.
In 2010, someone tossed a burning Quran into the Islamic Center’s parking lot. This time, the Molotov cocktail only left a scorch mark on the outside wall.
As of Friday night, APD was still leading the investigation without quantifying it as a “hate crime.”
“Until we get some specifics and facts, we’re not going to make a guess at that yet,” said Tixier.
However, some mosque members say the incident is clearly hateful, especially after seeing what was caught on camera.
“He walked into the gate and he came right up in here and threw the Molotov cocktail and took off running, then he got in a car that was parked on the corner of that street, right across the street there,” said Brooks.
APD isn’t releasing the video yet. In the meantime, others are showing their support.
“This is not what we tolerate in Albuquerque,” said Rabbi Arthur Flicker of the Congregation B’Nai Israel in Albuquerque.
Rabbi Arthur Flicker visited the mosque Friday.
“We wanted to make sure that they knew that the Jewish community supports them,” said Flicker.
It’s support that many, like Yoio Ndow appreciate.
“Here, in this community, I know, many people I know, they love everybody, doesn’t matter who you are,” said Ndow.
The people who’ve seen the video say it was hard to make out what the man looks like and they couldn’t make out the getaway car he took off in either.
A national Islamic civil rights group, CAIR is calling on the FBI to take this over and investigate it as a hate crime. Right now the FBI is only assisting in APD’s investigation.