Federal charges filed against Minneapolis mosque arson suspect; in court Monday
(KSTP) – The man arrested for fires started at two Minneapolis mosques is now facing federal charges for arson.
A criminal complaint released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office names 36-year-old Jackie Rahm Little, also known as Joel Arthur Tueting, of Plymouth, as the arson suspect in both the fire last Sunday at Masjid Omar Islamic Center and Monday’s fire at Masjid Al Rahma Mosque inside the Mercy Islamic Center.
RELATED: Arrest made in Minneapolis mosque fires that rattled Muslims
Monday morning, Little appeared in federal court on arson charges. His court appearance lasted only about 10 minutes and he was ordered to remain in custody until his next hearing, which is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. this Thursday.
A judge has appointed a federal defender for Little and will also decide soon if he will remain behind bars during court proceedings.
For the last week, the Muslim community has been on high alert, after fires were set in two separate mosques in Minneapolis.
“It’s been really scary for the community. Definitely a wakeup call for sure,’ Sen. Zaynab Mohamed, DFL-Minneapolis, said.
“They just keep asking, ‘Do we continue going to the mosque the way we were? How do we know he will not come back?’ We’re afraid,” Mohamed said.
Mohamed calls the Muslim community resilient. Worshippers still showed up to the mosques to practice their religion even when their faith was the target.
“Let this be a lesson to anyone who seeks to inflict hate upon our residents. We will not tolerate that. We will remove you from our streets and ensure you are brought to justice,” Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said.
There will be changes moving forward.
O’Hara said Sunday the department is adding enhanced patrols near places of worship and ensuring a swift response if someone calls 911 from a house of worship.
Local leaders said partnerships on the local, state and federal level made the arrest possible.
Because of incidents like these, lawmakers are hoping to make changes on the state level.
In the State Capitol, Mohamad introduced a bill this month that aims to improve the reporting and tracking of hate crime incidents. The measure would also give law enforcement training to better identify crimes motivated by bias.
Court documents state that Little started a fire inside the bathroom of the Masjid Omar Islamic Center at about 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 23. There is also surveillance footage of Little entering the Masjid Al Rahma Mosque just before 7 p.m. on Monday, April 24, right before a fire broke out on the third floor, causing the building to be evacuated.
RELATED: Man accused of setting fire to 2 Minneapolis mosques
Prior to the two arsons, the complaint states that Little was allegedly seen on surveillance footage going into the Minneapolis district office of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. He then spray-painted “500” on the front door of the representative’s office and took a photo of the graffiti. The complaint states that later in the same day, Little spray-painted “500” on the side of a patrol vehicle that was assigned to a Somali Minneapolis Police Department officer as well as inside the entryway of a market inside Somali Mall.