US authorities are investigating to identify the person who sent a series of threatening letters to several mosques in California and Georgia even as the FBI said the “awful” messages did not contain a specific threat and as such did not constitute a hate crime. While the handwritten letter contained “awful language,” the messages did not contain a specific threat and as such did not constitute a hate crime, said Stephen Woolery, head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division in Los Angeles.
“The letters don’t specifically contain a threat. The letters don’t speak directly about a threat of violence, and that’s what the FBI looks for when we investigate,” Woolery, told reporters at a news conference, which was attended by officials from other law enforcement agencies and leaders of the Muslim community.
All of them condemned the threatening letter received by three mosques in California and one in Georgia last week. The letters – all similar in nature – told the Muslims that their “day of reckoning” has arrived, while praising President-elect Donald Trump.
“There’s a new sheriff in town – President Donald Trump. He’s going to cleanse America and make it shine again. And he’s going to start with you Muslims,” said the letter signed by “Americans for a Better Way”.
It said that Trump “was going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.”
The Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr Horace Frank said they hope to close in on the sender of the letter.
“We know where they sent the letters from. We feel we’re confident we’ll be able to identify the person,” he said at a news conference held at a local mosque which has received one of these threatening letters.
“A hate crime is as serious as a homicide to us…The real message here is we are all Americans. This is our home, whether you’re Christian, Muslim or Jew,” said Michael Downing, Deputy Chief of Los Angeles Police Department.
“If he thinks he is emboldened by this because of the political environment that’s in place right now, that’s not true,” he added.
“In these types of cases it’s important (for) us to learn who sent them and are there other crimes that he or she committed. If not maybe it’s an opportunity for us to provide education, inspiration, maybe even if there’s consent, intervention,” Downing said.
During the news conference Muslim Public Affairs Council president Salam Al-Marayati called for the person behind the threatening letters to come forward and talk with Muslims face to face.
“I was offended for Muslims and offended for the Jewish community,” said Hedab Tarifi, chairperson of the Islamic Center of Southern California.