Reward offered, Gov. Hochul meets with faith leaders after Long Island mosque arson

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Thursday, July 7, 2022
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Suffolk County police are now offering a $5,000 reward for information on a potential hate crime arson at a mosque in Ronkonkoma.

RONKONKOMA, Long Island (WABC) -- Suffolk County police are now offering a $5,000 reward for information on a potential hate crime arson at a mosque in Ronkonkoma.

Police believe two people threw something similar to a Molotov cocktail at the Masjid Fatima Al-Zahra Mosque's sacred crescent moon symbol.

"I hear an explosion like there's no tomorrow, so very very loud," Imam Ahmed Ibrahim said. "I turn around from the window and I found the crescent in a flame, a big flame."

An "ignited device" was either placed at or thrown at the religious sign on the Lake Shore Road property, police have determined.

"It is so sad," Ibrahim said. "Hopefully, he's caught. Hopefully, he gets what he deserves. Hopefully, he explains why he did that."

Ibrahim said the mosque opened three years ago and that religious leaders put up the moon in April in celebration of Ramadan.

Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit and Arson Section detectives are investigating the incident.

"I'm disgusted," Suffolk County Police Chief Rodney Harrisons said. "A hate crime toward the Muslim Islamic community is a hate crime against all Suffolk County residents, and this is something that everybody should be angry about."

Governor Kathy Hochul met with faith leaders Thursday morning.

"(These acts) will continue, but we'll continue to rise up afterward," she said. "I can't stop the hate in someone's heart, but I can pass tough laws."

The firebombing came ahead of Saturday, which is the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha.

"The bottom line is this community is united and stronger than before," Hochul said. "That's what this perpetrator accomplished."

Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison also had a message for the suspects.

"I want to make sure this is very, very clear," he said. "We know who you are. We know who the perpetrator is. We know that you were in the parking lot letting off fireworks. We know that you sprinkled off and came up here and put the device underneath the crescent. Either turn yourself in, or we're going to come get you and lock you up."

The mosque building was not damaged, and no one was injured.

"As American Muslims, we are very proud of July 4th," said Hassan Ahmed, of the Suffolk County Anti-Bias Council. "To have a hate crime perpetrating on a mosque that stands for peace a place of worship, it should be unacceptable."

Detectives are asking anyone who was in the area, including at Lt. Michael Murphy Memorial Park, between 10 p.m. and midnight on July 3 to call police.

Anyone with information about the incident can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, utilizing a mobile app which can be downloaded through the App Store or Google Play by searching P3 Tips, or online at www.P3Tips.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

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