Letters threatening the genocide of Muslims and praising President-elect Donald Trump have been sent to mosques in at least five states.
“He’s going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews,” the letters state, according to a report just published in the Washington Post.
The letters call Trump the “new sheriff in town” who will “cleanse America and make it shine again” by eradicating the country’s “children of Satan,” meant to imply American Muslims, the newspaper reported.
At least nine letters have been received at mosques in California, Ohio, Georgia, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Each letter ends with “long live President Trump and God bless the USA,” the Post reported. “You are evil. You worship the devil,” the letters say of Muslims, “but, your day of reckoning has arrived.”
In response, Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey requesting “a formal FBI investigation into a campaign of threatening letters targeting mosques nationwide.”
Awad’s letter said there has been an unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide in recent months, a trend that “accelerated” following the Nov. 8 election of Trump. Awad reminded the FBI director that data collected by the bureau shows anti-Muslim hate crimes rose 67 percent in 2015.
“We believe that only a vigorous investigation of this matter will reassure Muslim Americans that the civil rights and liberties of all Americans will be protected in the face of violent threats against their free exercise of religion,” Awad wrote.
The first threatening letter was received last week at the Evergreen Islamic Center in San Jose, Calif.
Subsequent and similarly threatening letters were received at the Masjid Miami Gardens in Florida and Islamic Centers in Cleveland, Harrisburg, Pa., Savannah, Ga., and in California at Islamic Centers in Los Angeles, Signal Hill, Granada Hills, Pomona and Fresno.
Stephen Woolery, with the FBI’s counterterrorism division in Los Angeles, told a news conference this week that the letters “are too vague to be considered a hate crime,” the Post reported.
“The letters are sensational,” Woolery said, but they “don’t specifically contain a threat … of violence, and that’s what the FBI looks for when we investigate these types of incidents.”
Michael Downing, the deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, said he believes the author feels “emboldened” by the current political climate and likely wrote the letters “out of fear, uncertainty and unknown.”
“This is a sickness,” Downing told the Post. “It’s a cancer that we cannot allow to metastasize. We have to fix this.”
“This isn’t a Muslim problem, a Jewish problem or a Christian problem,” Downing said. “This is a problem with humanity.”