Muslim community increases security after arsons

Anjuli Davis reports

- Amir Khan surveyed a once-sacred room, reserved for prayer. Now, it's reduced to rubble following a fire.

"The dry wall's been rotting, the insulation, the carpeting, everything. We have to redo everything," he said.

The early-August fire at Masjid Omar Mosque on Busch Boulevard was originally thought to be caused by an electrical glitch. Turns out, it was arson.

Hassan Shibly of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Florida said the Bay Area Muslim community is increasing security measures.

"We're encouraging all mosques, especially during services, to hire an off-duty sheriff's deputy. Have greeters that can keep an eye on who's coming in and out. Security cameras, basic security precautions," Shibly said Tuesday.

Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents confirmed another fire at the Islamic Education Center in Town 'n' Country was also burned intentionally. At least two other fires are under investigation.

ATF said it has a suspect in mind for at least one of the fires. Agents do not believe the fires are connected, and instead, may be the work of copy cat criminals.

"We don't know what the motivation is right now behind the arson. But for me, it doesn't matter. The fact that someone is willing to set fire to a building where children play says enough about that kind of person, that I need to know. It's very important that the community takes its safety very seriously," Shibly said.

In the meantime, local mosque leaders are continuing to pray for perseverance and peace.

"Whatever it takes, one dollar at a time... it will be back together for anybody and everybody to come and pray," Khan said.

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