Correction and Update (10/2/2012): We incorrectly described the fire as an intentionally planted bomb. It was actually an intentionally set fire. Originally, the authorities had described the damage as being caused by an "incendiary device", which was misinterpreted. The arsonist has since been caught and will be facing charges after a thorough investigation. Thank you for all who called in tips to the police.
Toledo, Ohio is the home of one of the first mosques ever built in the United States. The Islamic Center of Greater Toledo is designated as a historic landmark by the state of Ohio. The Islamic Center is one of the most easily recognized and iconic structures in America and stands tall at the crossroads of highway 75 that spans north from Upper Michigan to the tip of Florida. It is also one of the largest mosques in the United States.
On Sunday, September 30, 2012, smoke was looming from the structure and firefighters and police were dispatched to the mosque. Firefighters found an intentionally planted incendiary device in the prayer hall on the second floor. Firefighters found extensive smoke, fire, and water damage on the second floor. An investigation is underway by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms as well as local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Today, police and investigators have determined that the fire was actually intentionally started. The fire was started when the mosque was empty, and hence no one was hurt. But the device was detonated in the main prayer hall. Sunday is the main gathering day for the parishioners at the Islamic Center, and if the fire would have been set just a few hours earlier, the mosque would have been full of people. Thankfully, the mosque was empty.
Toledo, Ohio is a diverse community home to people of all faiths, races, ethnicities, and cultures. For over a century, Toledoans have lived together and celebrated their diversity. They plan to continue to work together and support one another.
After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that brought down the world trade center, shots were fired into the Islamic Center's beautiful mosaic windows in an apparent hate crime. Toledoans reacted with love, when over 3000 Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and atheists came together to surround the Islamic Center in a "circle of love". They all held hands and surround the massive structure in a human body chain of love and protection. Toledoans have always risen to the occasion and supported one another.
The people of Toledo, Ohio hope and pray that this was nothing more than accidental fire and offer our prayers and condolences to the Muslim community. It's times like this when the people of Toledo come together and create greatness out of tragedy. The city of Toledo will pull through this and come out stronger and better than before.