Online Threats Target Bridgeview Mosque

A post on Facebook started as a generalized threat against Muslims before the discourse grew more specific in subsequent comments

Increased police patrols were seen early Friday morning near a mosque in south suburban Bridgeview after a series of threats were posted online this week.

Bridgeview Police Chief Walter Klimek said the messages started as a status update on Facebook and threatened to put local Muslims "in check" for the actions of extremist followers of Islam on the other side of the globe.

"F****** Muslims burn down christian churches in France! We got to start breaking some rules putting these n****** in check," one message said.

Bridgeview spokesman Ray Hanania said police launched an investigation with the help of the FBI on Tuesday after they were alerted to the postings, though a spokeswoman for the FBI would not confirm their involvement. Hanania said someone saw the postings and alerted authorities.

Hanania said police had identified suspected of posting the message -- a man believed to be in his 30s -- but had not made an arrest by midday Friday.

While the post started as a generalized threat against Muslims, discourse grew more specific in subsequent comments.

"I’d like to start with that mosque down the street . . . Eye for an eye tooth for a tooth," another message said.

Later someone else chimed in: "Haha . . . yep . . . maybe we should walk down the middle of the street without a worry in the world like they do shootin every one of them!!!!"

Eventually it was suggested that the two target a mosque near 87th and Harlem, according to the posting.

That effectively identified their theoretical target as the Mosque Foundation, which is close to that intersection, said Ahmed Rehab, executive director for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"You have to be vigilant and take things seriously," said Oussama Jammal, vice president of the mosque’s board of directors. The threat, he said, "had specifics that made it very alarming."

"We have a large community, lots of children and a school — obviously more than enough to make anyone concerned about the safety of children," Jammal said.

Rehab said his organization sent out a community alert about the threats Thursday night because it is important to combat “this conflagration between a terrorist ideology and Muslims or Islam.”

The individual behind the post might be a little disappointed to hear Bridgeview police are on the case, according to the posting.

By targeting a mosque, he speculated that it "will be in the FBI’s hands to catch me."

Then he added: "Something a little cooler than the Bridgeview police."

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