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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Massachusetts man to plead guilty to threat to burn mosque

Prosecutors said they would recommend that a judge sentence Keogan to up to 57 months, a little less than five years, in prison.

By: Reuters | Boston | Published: February 15, 2017 2:07:07 am

A Massachusetts man was due to plead guilty on Tuesday for threatening to burn down a Boston mosque in the wake of the 2015 attacks in Paris by Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers. Patrick Keogan of Wilmington was arrested in July and charged with posting an image on the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center’s Facebook page showing a mosque in flames with the caption “burn your local mosque.” No arson occurred, and no one was injured.

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The post came after the November 2015 attacks in Paris in which 130 people died. In papers filed in federal court in Boston on Tuesday, prosecutors said Keogan had agreed to plead guilty to charges including the threat, owning firearms despite a prior felony conviction, and child pornography. Court papers listed some 49 rifles, shotguns and pistols seized at Keogan’s home.

Prosecutors said they would recommend that a judge sentence Keogan to up to 57 months, a little less than five years, in prison. That would be less than the 20 years he could have faced for the child pornography charge.

A lawyer for Keogan did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The United States and Europe have seen a series of attacks by people claiming affiliation to Islamic State, including a June 2016 massacre at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub that stands as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Those killings have triggered threats and burnings at U.S. mosques. A Florida man last week was sentenced to 30 years in prison for setting fire to the mosque where the Orlando shooter once worshipped.

A representative of the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said he was glad prosecutors had taken the case seriously. “In a climate in which we’ve seen a disturbing spike in threats against mosques and attacks against individual Muslims, we are grateful for steps by state, federal and local authorities to take such threats seriously,” said John Robbins, executive director of CAIR Massachusetts.

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