On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Court documents: Accused Minn. mosque bombing plotter attempted to escape

Share story

Federal prosecutors say that an Illinois man accused of firebombing a suburban Twin Cities mosque tried to escape from custody while being transported to Minnesota. 

Michael Hari, 48, of Clarence, Ill., is facing hate crime and explosives charges in connection with the Aug. 5, 2017, attack on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. 

Michael Hari
Michael Hari
Courtesy of Sherburne County Jail

Prosecutors say Hari tried to flee while U.S. marshals were transporting him from Illinois.

In a court filing Monday, Hari's public defenders asked a judge for a delay in court proceedings. They said Hari had been unable to review the government's evidence against him because Anoka County jail staff had put him in administrative segregation.

Prosecutors say they do not dispute Hari's constitutional right to review the government's evidence, but they say he was put in segregation after he disabled a security device in his cell. 

The bombing of Dar Al-Farooq caused extensive damage to the building. But the five people who'd gathered there for morning prayers escaped unharmed. 

Seven months later, the FBI announced the arrest of three suspects — all alleged members of the self-styled White Rabbits — a small anti-government militia group based in Clarence, two hours south of Chicago. 

A federal grand jury indicted Hari, Michael McWhorter, 30, and Joe Morris, 24, on explosives and hate crime charges related to the mosque bombing. 

McWhorter told investigators that he wanted to frighten Muslims into leaving the United States and let them know that they're not welcome here. 

The men were also charged with machine gun possession, conspiracy and attempted arson for allegedly attacking a women's clinic in Champaign, Ill., robbing Walmart stores and bombing train tracks to extort money from a railroad. 

McWhorter and Morris pleaded guilty in January, a few weeks before authorities transported Hari from Illinois to Minnesota. It was during that trip that federal prosecutors say Hari tried to flee from custody. The court filing does not offer any details about the alleged escape attempt, nor does it say where it happened. 

Hari was kept for several months at the Sherburne County Jail, which houses many federal detainees, including Hari's co-defendants. He was later moved to Anoka County. 

Neither Hari's attorneys nor the Anoka County Sheriff's Office responded to requests for comment. 

Hari's trial is set for late September in St. Paul. Morris and McWhorter remain jailed as they await sentencing, and face a minimum of 35 years behind bars.