ISLAMIC CENTER OF NORTHEAST FLORIDA
The Islamic Center of Northeast Florida said it was “shocked” to learn of the alleged plot
Police in Florida have arrested a 69-year-old Florida man who investigators say was plotting to attack a mosque.
Bernandino Bolatete, a Filipino immigrant to the US, planned to target the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, says the FBI.
“I just want to give these freaking people a taste of their own medicine,” he allegedly texted an undercover officer.
The green card-holder has been charged with possessing a gun silencer.
At a press conference on Monday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Mr Bolatete “had expressed a strong anti-Islamic sentiment” and “had weaponry to carry out the attack”.
He told an undercover he planned to climb the mosque’s minaret and that he had five rifles to use in the attack, according to an FBI complaint.
A former US Marine fired dozens of shots at a mosque near his Connecticut home. Filled with regret, he tried to make amends
“It will be great, right,” he said while laughing, according to the FBI transcript of the secretly recorded conversation.
The FBI say Mr Bolatete, who suffered from kidney problems, told an undercover agent he wanted to “shoot up” a mosque before he died.
Authorities said the suspect did not plan to survive the attack.
Police said the community was never in danger during their investigation, which began with an anonymous tip-off.
In a statement, the chairman of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida said they were “shocked” to learn of the investigation.
“We have no idea as to what was the motivation this individual had for his planned heinous act,” said spokesman M Ashraf Shaikh.
On Tuesday, the suspect’s brother Pedro Bolatete told local news channel CBS 47 the suspect works at Wacko’s liquor store in nearby Emerson.
The suspect arrived in the US “about 2010” after his brother petitioned the US government for a visa, known as a green card.
“He is a gun aficionado. He likes to collect guns,” the brother said.