A break-in at a structure being refurbished into what would be St. Paul’s largest mosque has pushed back the opening date, according to the mosque’s religious head.
According to Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Minnesota branch, a man forced entrance into the premises of the Minnesota Da’wah Institute in the Hamline-Midway region and stole essential construction equipment that was being utilized for the refurbishment.
According to Imam Hassan Mohamud, the total loss is more than $20,000 due to stolen tools and property damage.
“All types of vandalism, property destruction, and plain hate crime have been targeted against mosques all over Minnesota,” Hussein added. “… We still don’t know why this guy came inside the building, to the mosque, in this specific scenario.”
According to police investigations, the burglary was not motivated by racism, “but in cases like this, we’re constantly looking into that possibility,” said Steve Linders, a spokesperson for the St. Paul Police Department.
Hussein stated that the FBI is being sought for assistance.
According to a representative for the FBI’s Minneapolis field office, the federal agency “is aware of the situation and we are collaborating with our law enforcement colleagues.”
On Saturday, shortly after 3 p.m., a St. Paul officer responded to a burglary report at the building at Fairview and Thomas avenues. According to Linders, the incident occurred between 2:45 and 3:15 a.m. Saturday.
The contractor stated that more than 12 power tools, as well as surveillance equipment, keys, and HVAC equipment, were taken, according to Linders.
The suspect attempted to cut the lock on a gate at the home before destroying a fence to gain access, according to police. According to CAIR-MN, he smashed in and destroyed doors.
The structure will also include a mall, a school, and a youth center in addition to the mosque. The original idea was for an opening ceremony on June 10, but Mohamud stated the exact date is still unknown.
According to Alex Gedstad, construction site manager, the setback should be minor because they were able to obtain backup gear to continue working. They’ve also stepped up security procedures.
As of Monday afternoon, no one has been arrested. CAIR-MN and Mohamud have requested anybody with information to contact the St. Paul Police Department at 651-291-1111.
“This signifies a lot more to us than simply a structure and walls,” said Minnesota Da’wah Institute youth director Osman Abdulle.
The 30,000-square-foot structure being refurbished was formerly used as a computer system data center.
CAIR-MN has continued to push mosques around the state to beef up security, and Hussein said the organization is assisting roughly 20 mosques in obtaining federal funding to help with improved cameras, technology, and security.