Federal law enforcement said they have indicted a man from Texas after he allegedly threatened to bomb an Islamic Center in Murfreesboro in September 2011.
Javier Alan Correa, 24, of Corpus Christi, TX, faces charges of violating the civil rights of the members of the mosque by using a threat of force to interfere with the free exercise of religious belief.
Imam Ossama Bahloul, of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, said he is pleased about the indictment in the alleged bomb threat.
"It's sad to see someone suffer the consequences of his own act. Hopefully we can all learn from this," Bahloul said.
United States Attorney Jerry Martin announced the indictment Thursday at the site of the new Islamic Center that is nearly complete.
"So let there be no question. If you interfere with anyone's constitutional right to worship and assemble, you will face federal prosecution and severe penalties," Martin said.
Correa is accused of using his cell phone to call in a bomb threat to the current Islamic Center six days before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack.
"(He) left a profanity-laced threat that evoked a lot of foul language, a classic hate speech," Martin said. "In that message, he said quote, 'On Sept. 11, 2011, there is going to be a bomb in the building.'"
The new mosque has been the subject of various court rulings over the past month concerning whether or not adequate public notice was given in 2010 regarding a commission meeting that authorized construction.
A large crowd of mosque supporters and opponents were on hand for the announcement.
"It makes you wonder, 'will I be next? Will they attack me?' But I have faith in the justice system and law enforcement," said Middle Tennessee State University student Jihan Abdulla.
"Really, they don't have a legal permit. It's been void by the court's decision," said mosque opponent Millie Evans.
Despite the indictment, investigations are still under way into the arson fire of construction equipment and vandalism at the future home of the Islamic Center.
Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold said his department is going to make sure everyone upholds the law.
"My job is to defend everyone's rights. That's what we're going to do," Arnold said.
Federal authorities contacted Correa's attorney to let him know about the indictment. They are also giving him an opportunity to turn surrender himself.
Correa faces up to 20 years in prison on one charge, up to ten on the other and a $250,000 fine on each charge. He has previously been charged with driving under the influence and writing bad checks.
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