The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Judge Sentences Mosque Arsonist, Likens Crime to Boston Bombings

By Bill Morlin on April 17, 2013 - 1:42 pm, Posted in Anti-Muslim, Extremist Crime

The “American psyche” was damaged when an armed arsonist set fire to a Toledo mosque, much like the impact of Monday’s bombings in Boston, a federal judge said in sentencing an Indiana man to 20 years in prison.

Randolph Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Ind., was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $1.4 million. He pleaded guilty in December to setting fire to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo last September. He told the court he was inspired by media accounts, specificially those on Fox News, suggesting Muslims were threatening Americans and controlling parts of the federal government.

“What is common in both the Boston Marathon bombing and in this situation is that there was damage to our American psyche in some way,”  U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary told Linn, the Toledo Blade reported.

“What you did also was an assault – as was the Boston Marathon bombing – an assault on what I call the American spirit, on our unique and founding principles of freedom, tolerance, and respect,” the judge said.

Those thoughts were echoed by Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“Hate crimes like this seek to damage more than buildings; they take aim at our American way of life,” Dettelbach said in a statement. “But today’s 20-year prison sentence and the coming together of this community to support our Muslim neighbors show that our freedoms are stronger and more resilient than this man’s hatred.”

Cherrefe Kadri, president of the Islamic Center, said the crime was senseless. “We don’t feel anger as much as we feel hurt that someone hated us that much – someone who’s never met us, someone who knows nothing about us,” Kadri said, the Toledo newspaper reported.

Linn offered an apology, saying he had been drinking heavily at the time and hadn’t listened to his now ex-wife’s warnings about his alcohol use.

“I messed up her life,” Linn said. “I messed up my own life. Thank God I didn’t hurt anybody at the mosque. … I’m sorry for everything I done. I hope someday I can be forgiven.”

Linn’s ex-wife, Karen Sechler, attended the hearing with a friend, saying later she “wanted to see for myself. I wanted to see justice served.” The Toledo newspaper reported that Sechler, who was married to Linn for 23 years and divorced him after his arrest, said he got what he deserved.

“I didn’t believe a word of (what he said in court),” she said. “He’s not remorseful.” She added that she had not foreseen what he did at the mosque. “When Randy would be drinking, whatever political was going on, he would rant and rave about it, and then the next day, when he was sober, you’d never hear about it again.”

On the day of the arson, Linn drove from his home in northeast Indiana to Ohio, stopping to fill three gasoline cans near the Islamic Center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The 3,000-member mosque is a 70,000-square-foot landmark, visible for miles.

Court documents say Linn entered the mosque carrying a handgun, moments after worshipers had left. He then went back to his car, returned with a gas can and poured gasoline on a second-floor prayer rug, igniting it as he fled. His actions were caught on surveillance camera photos that were publicly distributed, leading to his arrest a few days later.

  • Troy Large

    At what point do we become aware, again, that letting a few people own such a huge stake in the media is NEVER a good idea, and thus start regulations against it, again. Thanks Fox News for you constant bigotry, fear, intollerance, and hate – its as if you read Machiavellis “the Prince” and can’t help yourself in thinking your own following is comprised of massively ignorant people and then set out to manipulate them accordingly – and sure enough, it has some very negative effects – very, very negative. At what point to do attack this source of hate by limiting how much media any one group can own??? How many more will it take to be dead first??

  • concernedcitizen

    Sam I am glad that I read your April 18th post “not to refute the Army experts who have always been right except for most of the time”

    That made me laugh.

  • Gary Miller

    For some people this isn’t a free country, except for what they tell you are free to do, or not to do, especially if your different from them.

    The free American Indians are extinct.


  • Sam Molloy

    Not to refute the Army Experts, who have always been right except for most of the time, but attacks seem to me to unify a group and strengthen their determination. The Blitz, the police brutality of Little Rock, and the constant raids on the Stonewall Inn come to mind.

  • majii

    There are two things I will be forever grateful to my parents for. Although they raised myself and my siblings under segregation, they taught us not to hate. We were taught that there are good and bad people in any group, and that it wasn’t right to blame the evil of one on the whole group. They also taught us to treat others the way we expected them to treat us. Because of these two things, I’ve been able to make friends with people of different races, religions, ages, nationalities, ethnic groups, etc, and it has made my life richer. My parents’ teachings made me realize that when one stereotypes others, one misses opportunities to meet a lot of great individuals. I raised my child the same way, and she’s a joy for me to behold. My parents might not have known it at the time they were rearing us, but they were preparing us to live and function successfully in a world they knew would be vastly different from the one in which we grew up.

  • concernedcitizen

    It’s the Army book of Psychological Operations that you can purchase on Amazon, usually called Psy ops.

  • concernedcitizen

    The definition of the assault is very true. Hate crimes are designed to do more than merely harm property they are designed to harm groups of people, individual victims both emotionally and psychologically.

    It is no different than how a war would be waged. They work to demoralize their victims and targets. Then once they beat them into states of hopelessness they can then start to indoctrinate them with whatever crap they have made up…just look back in history or read the American Army’s manual on engaging in war that is sold on amazon.

    I understand exactly what Cherrefe Kadri is saying about how the people felt hurt that someone could do something so monstrous without even knowing them.

    And at the same time what I have learned is that people who commit monstrous crimes like this in this country are not worthy of sympathies and should never be put upon any pedestal as something or someone to win the approval of for any persons existence on this earth. They are immersed in hateful and monstrous acts of hate and quite frankly have no place at all in a civil society.