Arson Suspected at Tenn. Mosque, Federal Agents Investigate

February 11, 2008

A mosque in Columbia, Tenn., was destroyed by a fire last week that federal investigators say appears to have been caused by arson.

Investigators also found drawings of swastikas and other graffiti at the Islamic Center of Columbia, said Special Agent Eric Kehn with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

He said no one was injured in the fire.

Daoud Abudiab, president of the center, said authorities told him the fire probably started about 5 a.m. on Jan. 9. Ten to 15 people regularly worshiped at the mosque, which opened in 2000.

Besides the swastikas, the graffiti included “white power” and “we run the world,” according to Abudiab.

“We have not had any trouble. This is the first incident,” he said.

The group is awaiting the results of the investigation, but Abudiab said they plan to look for another place to worship in Columbia.

“This has been home for us – Middle Tennessee and Columbia – since 1998, and people have been supportive and friendly and welcoming.

“Obviously, we are concerned, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he added.

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