Cincinnati Blasts Cause Vigilance in Columbus

The FBI is offering a $15,000 reward in the investigation of the bombing of a Cincinnati mosque. The Bureau says the reward is payable for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the two Tuesday night explosions. There were no injuries, but a director of an Islamic relations group says the blasts have caused Muslims to be more vigilant. WOSU’s Sam Hendren reports.

The director of Ohio’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose office is in Columbus, says he visited Cincinnati’s Clifton Mosque Wednesday night. Adnan Mirza says he saw first-hand the damage caused by one of two devices which he described as “pipe bombs.”

“You can clearly see where the device was set and you can see, I guess the wick that was used for it, you can see the outline for it on the ground. It was definitely some type of device that was used,” said Mirza.

Mirza says one device exploded around 10:30 Tuesday night, the other, about 10 minutes later. The FBI says the bombs were powerful enough to have killed bystanders. The blasts have ‘promoted an atmosphere of fear,’ according to Mirza. But he’s asked local Muslims to continue to worship in their mosques.

“We know that when people are there it’s a natural deterrent. So that the last thing we want them to do is not come to the mosque; not come for prayers. And secondly, we need to send a message to the people who did this. We’re community here – we’re part of the community and we’re here to stay. And these acts, be they isolated or whatever, they’re not going to affect us,” Mirza said.

Mirza says the explosions have created a heightened awareness among local Muslims. Though no such incident has occurred in Columbus, an Islamic center on Broad Street was vandalized a few years ago. The deputy director of Ohio’s Homeland Security agency Richard Rollins says any suspicious activity should be reported.

“If we see something that is not right and we feel that in our being that this is very suspicious and it includes suspicious surveillances and people doing odd things at that particular time of day or they’re watching an area intently then we should notify the local people and they will notify the proper authorities,” said Rollins.

Mirza says there are an estimated 185,000 Muslims in Ohio. Columbus has as many as 13 mosques and places of worship. Cincinnati has 3 or more. Sam Hendren, WOSU News.