CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Arson caused a fire on Sunday at an Islamic center that was the occasional place of worship for a Somali-born teen who two days ago was arrested on charges of plotting a terror attack in Portland, authorities said.
The fire at the Salman Al-Farisi Islamic Center was set early Sunday morning, said Carla Pusateri, a fire prevention officer for the Corvallis Fire Department.
She said “quite a bit of evidence” was left at the scene, which led her to believe the fire was intentionally set. No injuries have been reported.
The Islamic center was frequented by Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old held on charges of plotting to carry out a terror attack at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland on Friday.
Yosof Wanly, imam at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center, said Mohamud was a normal student who went to athletic events, drank the occasional beer and was into rap music and culture.
Wanly said Mohamud was religious but didn’t come to the mosque consistently.
The fire on Sunday was contained to one room, burning 80 percent of the center’s office, Wanly said. The worship areas were untouched.
Wanly has been advised by friends to take his family out of their home, and to “another person’s house due to the possibility of hate crimes,” he said. “I’m going to look into it, especially because my face has been on the news a lot.”
Wanly said the local populace has always been accepting of Muslims.
“The common scene here is to be very friendly, accepting various cultures and religions,” Wanly said. “The Islamic center has been here for 40 years, it’s more American than most Americans with regards to age.”