The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 16, 2012

Probe doesn’t yield cause of mosque fire

FBI continuing overall investigation

Federal authorities haven’t determined the cause of the Aug. 6 fire that destroyed the Islamic Society of Joplin’s mosque.

“We are still actively investigating,” FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said Thursday by phone.

A news release from the FBI notes that investigators with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted several days of extensive examination at the site, involving reconstructing the scene and sifting through the debris.

The ATF dispatched a certified fire inspector, a highly trained special agent, to provide technical support and analysis.

A dog also was used by investigators at the scene on the day of the fire.

Authorities also have conducted many interviews.

Authorities still consider the fire to be suspicious, based on the news release.

“At this time, the official cause of the fire is ‘undetermined,’” reads the news release. “A finding of undetermined does not mean that a fire investigation is closed. If additional information is developed, this finding can be changed. Investigators are actively following all leads and request the public to report any information about the fire.”

The news release states that the factors leading to the determination aren’t being released.

Some Joplin Muslims said they weren’t discouraged about the news.

“As far as I’m concerned, I have full faith in law enforcement,” Ayesha Ahmed said. “It’s going to take some time. We just need to wait and see what comes out of it.”

Member and mosque spokeswoman Kimberly Kester also said the members of the mosque have full faith in the FBI and other investigators. She said she did feel some personal frustration.

“We would like to get this investigation complete so we can put it behind us and really focus on rebuilding,” she said.

The FBI also released enhanced images from a surveillance video showing the person who started a fire at the mosque on July 4 that caused minor damage to the roof.

“Law enforcement firmly believes these enhanced photographs can assist in the identification of this suspect,” reads the news release.

The news release states that authorities haven’t determined if the July 4 and Aug. 6 incidents are related.

The FBI won’t say if any surveillance video exists from the Aug. 6 fire, but if any survived the fire, it hasn’t been made public.

The FBI and ATF are offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those involved in the July 4 fire. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has added a $10,000 reward for the arrest of those involved in either incident.

Website

THE SURVEILLANCE VIDEO, press releases and enhanced images are available on the website of the Kansas City division of the FBI at fbi.gov/kansascity.

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