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Man Who Allegedly Tried To Burn Down Texas Mosque Faces Trial

REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter

A Texas man charged with committing a hate crime for allegedly trying to burn down a mosque faced his first day at trial Tuesday.

Federal authorities charged Marq Vincent Perez with committing a hate crime and using fire to commit a federal felony by allegedly setting fire to Victoria Islamic Center in January 2017. A federal prosecutor claimed that Perez was motivated by a “rabid hatred” of Muslims. (RELATED: Kansas Militia Members Convicted Of Plot To Bomb Mosque And Somali Refugees)

“I’ll burn every m*****f***** with a raggedy towel on their head,” lead prosecutor Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharad Khandelwal quoted Perez as saying, according to the Victoria Advocate.

A federal prosecutor also claimed that an informant told authorities that Perez believed those who attended the mosque were terrorists, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities began investigating Perez in 2016 after being alerted to comments that he made on social media. They obtained a search warrant and searched both his social media accounts and his home. Khandelwal claimed in his opening statement before the court that authorities discovered Perez had joined a militia group on Facebook, which he called “Delta Six,” and became its leader.

Under his leadership, the militia group attacked a car at a family home in Victoria with homemade explosives and a shotgun. The attack was intended as a practice run for the arson attack on the mosque, according to prosecutors.

Perez also allegedly recruited local teens into “rogue units” that he intended to “operate away from prying eyes.”

Perez’s defense declined to give an opening statement following Khandelwal. If convicted, Perez could face 20 years in prison for the hate crime charge alone.

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