The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Suspect Ordered Held without Bail in Arson Attack on Toledo Mosque

By Bill Morlin on October 19, 2012 - 2:47 pm, Posted in Anti-Muslim, Hate Groups

A federal judge has ordered Randolph T. Linn – who is charged with setting fire to a mosque outside of Toledo, Ohio, earlier this month – held without bail until he stands trial on two federal hate crime charges returned this week by a grand jury.

Linn, who has expressed obscenity-laced anti-Muslim comments, is a flight risk and “there is serious risk that the defendant will endanger the safety of another person or the community,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Vernelis K. Armstrong said in an order filed after a hearing Thursday.

After viewing evidence against Linn in a closed session, the grand jury panel voted this week to indict the 52-year-old St. Joe, Ind., truck driver on two federal charges – intentionally defacing, damaging and destroying religious real property because of the religious character of that property and using fire to commit a felony.

Federal jurisdiction in the case comes, in part, because the alleged crime affects interstate and foreign commerce. According to the indictment, Linn drove from Indiana to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, located just outside Toledo in Perrysburg, broke in and used gasoline to start a fire in the prayer room.

If convicted, Linn faces 70 to 88 months in prison for damage to religious property and a mandatory 10-year sentence for using fire to commit a felony, the Toledo Blade reported in today’s editions.

During his arraignment, Linn answered questions only from the court. His court-appointed attorney, Andrew Hart, declined comment outside the courtroom, the newspaper reported.

Linn was arrested two days after an arson fire caused heavy smoke and water damage to the Islamic Center of Toledo, the third largest mosque in the United States. The quick arrest came about because a man matching his description was captured on video at the mosque and an acquaintance recognized him and alerted authorities.

The case has touched the desk of Thomas E. Perez, head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. In a certificate filed as public record, the assistant attorney general said the federal prosecution of Linn for defacing and damaging the Islamic center “is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice.”

“The Department of Justice will aggressively prosecute persons who attack, deface, or damage houses of worship because of racial or religious animus,” Perez said in a statement released today.

The case is an example of local, state and federal law enforcement working cooperatively “to ensure that no one in this country is hindered in their ability to worship freely in the manner of their choosing.”

As an example of that cooperation, Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said an assistant prosecutor from his staff has been designated as a special assistant U.S. attorney to assist in the prosecution of Linn.

Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said there must be “zero tolerance for such violent acts of intolerance.”

“Religious freedom is at the core of our country, and we will continue to aggressively prosecute such hate crimes whenever and wherever the evidence warrants,” Dettelbach said. “Local, state, and federal law enforcement are to be commended for the speed with which they identified and arrested the suspect.”

  • Peter Hockley

    Mitch, these guys live in an echo chamber, they only speak to like minded people. When they voice their despicable views, no one calls them on them. Most people prefer a quiet life and find it difficult to confront these kind of people, unlike myself and the rest of you guys who post here.

  • aadila

    That’s alright, Kiwi…I’m sure we all still think you’re dreamy…

    I don’t detract from your view. I just like to think that compassion is either present or it is not, rather than quantifying its degree according to the recipient. If there is a disproportionate _display_ of compassion for perpetrators of heinous acts, this in no way diminishes the compassion for the victims.

    If this perception exists, it is because the howls of execration by the frothing masses far and away drown out the few isolated individuals who point to the underlying truth that no amount of punishment can reverse the harm that was done.

    If some choose to see liberals in a negative light for expressing this unpopular truth, I believe it says more about the observer than the observed.

    And if our 70% recidivism rate is any indication, no amount of hammering ensures that those imprisoned are any less likely to commit crimes upon release. If weak moral fiber is the illness, the cure is not shattering the perpetratror through trauma.

    So I feel your position provides only the moral relief of getting even. But when has the world ever settled the score to its satisfaction? It seems like the violence and hate just continue.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Aadila, I have to disagree with you on this one.

    One of the big conservative blasts at liberals (like myself) is that we react to crime with “bleeding hearts” and being more concerned for the perpetrator than the victim. Instead of punishing him, we “reward” him for his behavior with counseling and programs. And conservatives gain a lot of ground with that, sounding tough on law-and-order.

    This is one area in which I agree with the conservatives. Yes, we must prevent the causes of crime by helping kids and youth to find other tracks to life than crime, gangs, drugs, and violence. Yes, we must prevent the causes of crime by helping adults find ways of getting jobs, homes, health care, and prosperity. Yes, we must assist returning ex-offenders re-enter society, to prevent the tragic and expensive cycle of recidivism. We must support the victims of crime, who suffer through no fault of their own. (I am aware that a great many victims of criminal acts are themselves criminals, in the appalling conditions of the illegal drug trade, but I think my point is still relevant)

    But we cannot send a message that the commission of horrific crimes, like burning a mosque, will give “rewards.” And we MUST stand with the victims. We have to take a Hegelian approach and offer both carrot and stick.

    Ultimately, there must be personal responsibility and accountability for personal acts. No, hammering the perp will not repair the mosque. No, it will not remove the defilement of hate.

    But hammering the perpetrator will make the perpetrator understand that misdeeds have consequences, and that he bears personal responsibility for them. Furthermore, it will make like-minded miscreants think twice about repeating or bettering his actions.

    Simultaneously, we must send the signal that hate is wrong, and make the efforts to unite the community to repair the damage. We must send BOTH messages at the same time…offering the carrot and stick, as it were.

    The message we should be sending, in my limited judgment, is that “We do not tolerate hatred, or acts of hatred. We will punish acts of hatred. But we will reward, honor, and support those who come together to spread gospels and perform acts of love, unity, and hope.”

    We should offer hammers to those willing to help repair the mosque. And punish the perpetrator. And one way to do that, interestingly enough, is to both hammer him and make him perform restitution. In other words, he both gets the hammer and is offered it.

  • aadila

    Kiwi I respect your feelings but will all the hammering on the perp repair the mosque? Will it remove the defilement of hate from the consciousness? I’m not even sure anymore if our harsh penalties have the virtue of discouraging crime.

    I think more and more we need to work at an earlier level of intervention to stop acts of hate before they occur. To understand truly why this keeps happening. To see not what he did, but what we do.

    Since our actions are all intertwined on this planet I think the first step is to eradicate the hatred that is in our own hearts, first and foremost. If we can achieve this, we will reduce the hate that is in the world and is manifested by acts of violent destruction.

    The slightest hatred we project, and I am as guilty of this as anyone, goes out into the universe to do its work. It multiplies, it rebounds, it accumulates into an ever increasing bolus of hate that rolls through our streets like a juggernaut. I propose we do not add to the world’s pain, and call this justice.

    All howls of execration against the perpetrator, though understandable, can never undo the act of hate. In fact, in a philosophical sense, they might even perpetuate it.

  • Kiwiwriter

    If he’s proven guilty, I hope he gets hammered hard.

    A 52-year-old truck driver. He’s old enough to know better.

  • Sam Molloy

    Rey, for me, Chiropractic works wonders.

  • Reynardine

    Sorry, folks, never got to it this week, either- annoying lower back injury

  • Reynardine

    Aadila, I had a gawk at this guy and suspect he’s already as low as he can go. Meanwhile, I am waiting for Sawdust-head to show up and say that Mr. Linn is clearly not white but secretly Chinese.

  • Mitch Beales

    The “acquaintance” who helped to identify Linn deserves a medal. Perhaps such crimes would be less common if more folks were aware of the fact that most people in America neither condone nor tolerate such behavior. Sadly the extremely vocal hate groups monitored by SPLC lead them to believe that these extreme views are widely shared. The perpetrators of such crimes are the victims of the hate groups that egg them on to violence.

  • aadila

    Sadly however, after ten years of being exposed to torture, rape, and the stripping away of all human rights in America’s prison system there is little likelihood that the culprit will come out reformed. Government statistics show about 70% of people who are released from America’s medieval penal system go right back in within a few years. If they are unstable or confused going in, ten years in the bug house will shatter them. This is not an apology for the horrendous act of arson, which must be punishedm, but we could at least make an attempt at bringing our corrections system in line with first world standards. There might be a chance this guy could be straightened out. Assuming of course, he is not tortured like 50,000 American prison inmates on any given day.

  • Reynardine

    Because of the inherent risk of ugly death in this crime, arson was a capital offense at common law. If this man is indeed the perpetrator, he may consider ten years as easy time.

  • adamhill

    Steven Dettelbach’s quote says it all. Gratitude, props, and kudos to all those working for law enforcement and the justice department who caught and processed this guy.

  • Aron

    Godspeed to the Justice Department. This is very good news.