CAIR responds to threats to St. Pete mosques

Laila Abdelaziz
Laila Abdelaziz. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News. August 31, 2015.

Update: On Tuesday the man was arrested. Listen to the story here:

Late Friday attacks in Paris killed at least 129 people, ISIS has claimed responsibility — and there have been threats to local mosques, including the Islamic Center of St. Petersburg. In this recording left on a voicemail a caller identifies himself as Martin Schnitzler. WMNF News made fifteen edits to this one-minute recording to remove words the FCC forbids us to play on the air. We also decided to remove two references to a racist slang term for people of Middle Eastern decent.

According to the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the U.S. Department of Justice and local law enforcement are investigating the phoned terror threats to mosques in that state and CAIR-Florida is calling for hate crime charges.

Update: since this show aired, there has been an update. Here’s what the AP reported:

The FBI says threats made against two Tampa Bay-area mosques in the wake of the deadly attacks in France have been deemed not credible.

The FBI says threatening phone messages were left Friday night for the Islamic Society of St. Petersburg and the Islamic Society of Pinellas County.

The agency’s Tampa field office spokesperson, Dave Couvertier, says the calls came from the same person, who was identified and interviewed over the weekend. Couvertier says investigators found no actual plans to carry out acts of violence.

The mosque canceled prayer and St. Petersburg Police added extra patrols following the threat.

Laila Abdelaziz was the guest on WMNF’s MidPoint. She’s legislative and government affairs director at CAIR-Florida.

Watch part 1 of the show:

Watch part 2 of the show:

CAIR says a similar threat was made to another mosque in Florida, in which the caller threatened deadly attacks on a number of Islamic houses of worship. The caller threatened to “bomb your (expletive) location” and spoke of “shooting people at will.”

Listen to the full show:

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks there have been calls by politicians in France and in the U.S. to restrict entry for refugees fleeing war in Syria and there have been renewed air strikes by the U.S. and France on ISIS strongholds in Syria.

According to news in the Detroit Free Press: An individual who posted a Twitter message urging violence against the city of Dearborn because of its Muslim population has been located “and [police said] no longer a threat to Dearborn.” The graphic tweet was posted .. Saturday and ignited instant controversy on social media in the aftermath of the Paris terrorists attacks. “Dearborn, MI has the highest Muslim population in the United States. Let’s f— that place up and send a message to ISIS. We’re coming.” The sender also wrote a follow-up: “I want to re-enlist now. #Prayers4Paris”

Also a mosque in Peterborough Ontario was set ablaze

The AP reports: Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio says that the U.S. can’t properly screen and shouldn’t let in refugees fleeing that war-ravaged country. Rubio said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that it’s impossible to find out if Syrian refugees have links to terrorists and they should be kept out. In September, Rubio was quoted as saying he could support letting in “some” refugees that are properly vetted. Rival candidate Jeb Bush says on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the U.S. should admit some Syrians, particularly Christians.

The governor of Alabama has declared he won’t allow relocations.

As for Florida Governor Rick Scott, here’s the AP’s story:

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday joined with a growing number of Republican governors who are critical of efforts by the Obama administration to relocate Syrian refugees to the United States.

Scott wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that asked them to take “immediate and aggressive action” to prevent the relocation of 425 Syrian refugees to the state.

The governor wrote that the relocation should not be allowed in Florida or anywhere in the U.S. “without an extensive evaluation of the risk these individuals may pose to our national security.”

Scott’s letter came three days after the terrorist attacks in Paris and he joins other GOP governors who have criticized plans by the administration of President Barack Obama to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next 12 months.

Authorities have said a Syrian passport was found near one of the attackers, and the Paris prosecutors’ office says fingerprints from the attacker match those of someone who passed through Greece in October.

Millions of Syrians have fled to neighboring Middle Eastern countries and Europe.

Scott pointed out in his letter that Florida does not have the authority to stop the federal government from relocating Syrians to the state.

But Scott said that he has ordered state officials to turn down any requests to help the refugees. He said that the Department of Children and Families has received requests to assist groups that are receiving federal funding to assist with the relocation of Syrian refugees.

Sen. Don Gaetz, along with his son Rep. Matt Gaetz, wrote their own letter to Scott on Monday calling on him to follow the lead of Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. Bentley said Sunday he would refuse to allow Syrian refugees to relocate to that state.

“Florida has a rich tradition of warmly welcoming refugees fleeing from oppression,” the Republicans wrote. “Florida has rightfully done its share as a haven for refugees. However, the current circumstance is far more different and far more dangerous than any other time when we have been asked to open our borders and communities.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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