ATF investigates TN Islamic Center fire www.privateofficer.com
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. Aug 28 2010 – Federal agents have been called out to investigate a possible arson case at the construction site of a controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County.
Officials said four construction vehicles were doused in some kind of flammable liquid accelerant early Saturday morning. Firefighters were alerted to the situation by a passerby who saw flames at the site.
Only one large earth hauler was set on fire before the suspect or suspects left the scene. Investigators believed the people responsible for the fire was spooked and ran off before igniting the other three pieces of machinery.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called to the scene to lead the investigation. The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and Murfreesboro Police Department also responded.
Heavy equipment began clearing trees and removing soil on Monday as work got underway on the new center at the corner of Bradyville Pike and Veals Road.
Phase one of the project began amid continuing debate and controversy.
Some critics have opposed the new mosque, objecting to the Islamic religion. Others have said they don’t want the traffic that comes with such a large facility.
A recent posting on the Support the Islamic Center’s Facebook page states: “Some people in our city are doing everything within their power to prevent the building of our center and revoke our existing permit. Upon the advice of our attorney we must do everything in our power to begin building right away.”
Officials did not say if the arson was being investigated as a hate crime. A media briefing was expected Saturday afternoon to address the issue.
Police said the construction equipment on scene was the property of the project contractor – not the Islamic Center.