The man suspected of attempting to burn down a crowded Seattle gay bar on New Year’s Eve reportedly told a confidant that he hated gay and lesbian people and thought “homosexuals should be exterminated,” according to a Seattle TV station. He may also have been planning other terrorist activity, the confidant said.
KIRO-TV reported over the weekend that a friend of Musab Masmari, the Libyan immigrant arrested in early February by detectives as he attempted to flee the country, told FBI agents that Masmari had a “deep distaste for homosexual people,” despite living for several years at an apartment in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s best-known gay neighborhood.
The informant said he had met Masmari at a café near a mosque both attended and that Masmari had laid out his hatred of gay people over the course of the conversation. He said Masmari told him he had obtained a rifle, and he added that he feared that Masmari might have been planning other terrorist acts in addition to the attempted arson at Neighbours Tavern on Capitol Hill at about midnight of New Year’s Eve.
Quick action by alert patrons of the tavern put out the fire, which was set on a stairway leading to the crowded upstairs club, before any of the 750 people inside could be harmed. Masmari’s image was captured on security cameras carrying what appeared to be the gasoline container that was used in the arson attempt, and he was identified by a number of his former neighbors. Detectives questioned him and released him initially, but when he was caught heading to Sea-Tac Airport with a boarding pass for a flight to Turkey, they arrested him and charged him with attempted arson.
The FBI announced that it was investigating the case as a bias crime. If this latest evidence becomes part of the case, hate-crime charges are likely pending.