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Hours after Rep. Joe Walsh Warns of ‘Radical Islam,’ David Conrad Opens Fire on Chicago Mosque

Just hours after Tea Party-backed Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) warned that radical Islamists were “trying to kill Americans,” a Morton Grove man opened fire on a neighborhood mosque with a high-velocity air rifle, nearly hitting a security guard.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that around 500 people were praying inside the Muslim Education Center on Friday night when 51-year-old David Conrad, who lives near the mosque, fired at least two shots at it from the cover of his home.

Off-duty Chicago police officers hired to provide extra security during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan called Morton Grove police after witnessing a pellet from the air rifle strike the building just above one of their heads. Officers  arrested Conrad, who has a history of conflict with the mosque, on Saturday and charged him with three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm and one count of criminal damage to property. Both charges are felonies.

Security guards told police that there were “a number” of other incidents of damage to the mosque that had not been reported.

“Due to the sensitive nature of the incident and with the previous criminal damage there, we contacted Cook County state’s attorney’s office,” Morton Grove Police Chief Mark Erickson told the Chicago Tribune. “We have a safe community here and we’ll ensure that a complete and thorough investigation will continue until this matter is resolved.”

Although the state’s attorney’s office is involved, FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde told the Tribune that the feds are not investigating the incident, which is not being treated as a hate crime.

“The matter is being handled by the locals,” she said.

The Tribune reports that Conrad attended multiple community meetings in 2003 and 2004 to oppose the mosque. Kamran Hussain, vice president of the Muslim Community Center of Chicago– which owns the mosque– said that Conrad had been involved in numerous disputes with it over the years.

“He’s always been a thorn in our side,” Hussain told the Tribune.

Just hours before the shooting, Rep. Joe Walsh called radical Islam a “real threat.” 

“One thing that I’m sure of is that there are people in this country– there is a radical strain of Islam in this country, it’s not just over there– trying to kill Americans every week,” Walsh told a town hall meeting. “It’s a real threat, and it’s a threat that is much more at home now than it was after 9/11.”

Rep. Walsh opined that the next major terrorist attack on US soil was “not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.”

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), issued a statement accusing Rep. Walsh of targeting the Muslim community.

“Rep. Joe Walsh’s comments are consistent with the rise of the radical right and the insistence by some in the Republican party that Americans should be suspicious and fearful of fellow Americans– including Walsh’s own constituents– who are of a different faith,” the statement said.

“Such indiscriminate vilification is not unrelated to the rise in hate crimes and acts of vandalism we are seeing today,” the statement continued. “When elected officials, trusted by many, indicate that the enemy could be any Muslim living in your neighborhood, it gives rise to xenophobic vigilantism where fearful citizens target other Americans simply for looking different.”

According to the FBI, there have been hundreds of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

 

 

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