A federal jury on Wednesday convicted an Illinois man of planning and executing the bombing of a Bloomington mosque in 2017.
Michael Hari, 49, of Clarence, was found guilty of five federal counts, including multiple civil rights and hate crimes, related to the early morning pipe bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq mosque while several people gathered inside for a dawn prayer. No none was injured in the attack, but prosecutors say Hari and his accomplices succeeded in their goal of terrorizing the mosque members and irreparably shattering their community.
After two and a half weeks of trial, it took the jury less than a day to deliberate the verdict.
Prosecutors argued that Hari allowed a political ideology, born of hatred for those different from him, to “justify physical violence against his victims.” Hari and two other men, self-dubbed the “White Rabbits,” also attempted to bomb the Women’s Health Practice, a clinic in Champaign, Ill., but the explosive device didn’t ignite. The terrorist attack of the mosque, she said, was “just the first step of Michael Hari’s goal to carry out attacks against his enemies,” Allison Ethen, assistant U.S. attorney, said in her opening address to jurors.
Defense attorneys urged jurors to examine the evidence with a “skeptical eye” and “independent mind.” James Becker, one of the federal defenders representing Hari, called into question his alleged accomplices, citing changes in details of their statements, such as the material used to make the bomb. Joe Morris, 25, and Michael McWhorter, 31, pleaded guilty in January 2019 to multiple charges, including federal civil rights violations. Both took the stand in Hari’s trial.
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