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Illinois men given less than minimum sentence for Minnesota mosque bombing

Michael McWhorter, 33, and Joe Morris, 26, were sentenced to 16 and 14 years in prison, respectively, for helping carry out the attack on the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center while worshipers were attending morning prayers, according to court documents.

They were charged with firearms, arson, use of a destructive device and federal civil rights violations. No one was injured in the explosion.

In September, Emily Claire Hari, the leader of the militia group formerly known as Michael Hari, who was convicted of masterminding the August 5, 2017 pipe bombing, received a 53-year sentence. With McWhorter and Morris cooperating in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Allison Ethen and Timothy Rank sought judgment below sentencing guidelines.

At Hari’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank said the bombing was a “premeditated act of domestic terrorism” against the Bloomington, Minnesota house of worship, which serves as an immigrant community. Somalis.

“The government recognizes and appreciates the cooperation of McWhorter and Morris throughout this case, which contributed to Hari’s conviction,” US Attorney Andrew Luger said in a statement. “Today justice under the law has been served for their actions.”

Five religious leaders from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths also gave victim statements, pleading for clemency, the Star Tribune reported.

In explaining his decision, Frank said he weighed the need to deter similar crimes, according to the report. “When all is said and done, lesser sentences would not promote respect for the law,” Frank said, according to the Tribune.

Minnesota has the largest Somali community in the country, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Prosecutors said Hari recruited the duo from a terrorist militia group called “The White Rabbits” and then drove a rented pickup truck more than 800 km to the mosque.

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Morris is accused of using a sledgehammer to smash a window of the Islamic Center early in the morning of August 5, when worshipers were gathered for morning prayers, and of throwing a container of diesel and petrol into the imam’s office.

McWhorter lit the fuse of a pipe bomb made by Hari and threw it into the office, igniting the fuel. The two men returned to the vehicle where Hari was waiting for them and fled, according to US prosecutors.

FBI agents arrested Hari, McWhorter and Morris, all from Clarence, Illinois, in March 2018.

All three were indicted the following June. McWhorter and Morris pleaded guilty to their roles in January 2019.

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