The Islamic Center of Omaha received an email threat after the terrorist attacks in Brussels, and on Friday a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group urged the FBI and Nebraska law enforcement authorities to investigate.
According to the center and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the message read: “your so called peaceful religion just killed more innocent people. we think its is now time to fight back starting with you. believe it. see you in hell.”
The Islamic Center has contacted local and federal authorities about the email.
“We call on local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to take this threat seriously, to investigate it as a hate crime and to bring the perpetrator to justice,” said CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.
The suicide bombings at the airport and subway in Brussels — an attack claimed by the Islamic State, the extremist group based in Syria and Iraq — took place Tuesday. The center received the email Wednesday morning.
Mohammed Rasheed, a spokesman for the center, condemned the Brussels bombings and other recent Islamic State attacks in Turkey, Lebanon and elsewhere.
“A lot of people are getting killed, including Muslims,” he said. “They are killing humanity, basically everybody, and we condemn that.”
The center, at 3511 N. 73rd St., was targeted by vandals repeatedly late last year and earlier this year. In light of that, Rasheed said, the email was troubling.
“We are definitely concerned about it,” Rasheed said. “We don’t want to take anything lightly.”
In January, someone put raw bacon on an exterior door handle of the center and threw rocks at the door.
In November, a vandal spray-painted an outside wall.
In October, security cameras caught a man wearing a mask throwing a boulder at a window.
In August, someone threw a large rock through a double-pane glass door, causing about $400 in damage.
Messages left for the FBI and the Omaha Police Department were not returned Friday afternoon. Rasheed said both agencies have been told of the threat.
He said center members met with Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer earlier this month.
“We are all around very happy with the FBI, as well as the police department,” he said.
Rasheed invited the public to come to the center for open houses, on every second and fourth Saturday of the month, from 2 to 5 p.m., to learn more about Islam. An open house is scheduled for today.
Visitors can ask anything, he said. “We don’t get offended.”
About 40 people attended the most recent open house, he said.
“Our message to the community is to come and learn about Muslims, not to have these feelings in their hearts that are influenced by outside-the-country incidents,” he said. “This violence is not part of Islam.”