Homeland Security

Houston 'Anti-Muslim' Christmas Day Arson Was Set By Mosque Attendee ... Just Like Last Year

A Christmas Day fire at a storefront mosque in Houston that Muslim organizations were quick to blame on “anti-Muslim sentiment” was actually set by a regular attendee of the mosque, Gary Nathaniel Moore. He was arrested by authorities yesterday.

Amazingly, I reported here at PJ Media last year that the 2014 Christmas Day mosque arson attack in Fresno, CA, also turned out to have been committed by a long-time attendee.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

A Houston man has been arrested in connection with a suspected arson at a mosque on Christmas Day.

A spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed that the man was arrested early Wednesday, sometime after midnight, and appeared in court 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The suspect, Gary Nathaniel Moore, 37, of Houston, appeared in court at 7 a.m., spokeswoman Nicole Strong said.

According to a charging instrument released by the Harris County District Clerk, Moore told investigators at the scene that he has attended the mosque for five years, coming five times per day to pray seven days per week.

Moore told investigators he had been at the mosque earlier on Dec. 25 to pray, and had left at about 2 p.m. to go home. Moore told investigators he was the last person to leave the mosque and saw no smoke or other signs of fire when he left. He had returned to the scene after hearing about the fire from a friend.

Using surveillance video from multiple businesses nearby, investigators were able to identify Moore, according to records. A search warrant of his home was conducted, in which investigators recovered a backpack and clothing that seemingly matched that which was seen in surveillance footage, as well as one half of a two-pack of charcoal lighter fluid bottles that seemed to match another lighter fluid bottle found inside the mosque.

Remarkably, a Reuters article by Jon Herskovitz on Moore’s arrest makes no mention that he was a regular attendee of the mosque.

Instead Herskovitz continued with the “anti-Muslim sentiment” narrative:

Anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise in the United States, stoked by recent Islamic State-related attacks in France and California and anti-Muslim statements by Republican presidential hopefuls.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which tracks such incidents, said the scale of vandalism, damage and intimidation at American mosques this year is the worst in the six years it has kept records.

Fitting a predictable pattern, the Houston mosque fire was quickly seized on by Muslim organizations, activists, and other media as an example of a supposed rising atmosphere of “anti-Muslim sentiments”:

An article at Occupy Democrats by Colin Taylor was headlined:

Domestic Terrorists Celebrate Christmas by Torching Houston Mosque.”

Self-inflicted mosque fires are now apparently a Christmas Day tradition. As I reported here at PJ Media last year, a similar incident of vandalism on Christmas Day at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno — which was also quickly blamed on “Islamophobia” — turned out to have been committed by someone who attended the mosque:

A vandalism attack on the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno on Christmas Day was immediately branded by Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer as a “hate crime,” and the “Islamophobia” grievance industry began to gear up in response. Now that a suspect has been arrested, the narrative is quickly collapsing.

But police announced today that the suspect arrested in the attack is 28-year-old Asif Mohammad Khan, who, according to news reports, is a Muslim who used to attend the mosque and did the attack in response to bullying by some in the mosque.

As we saw in terrorist incidents this year in Chattanooga, and more recently in San Bernardino, the Obama administration, the media, and Muslim organizations are quick to quash any speculation about possible motives for such attacks. Yet different rules seem to apply when Muslims or Islamic institutions are targeted. Those responsible are quickly — and again, falsely — determined in the absence of any facts.

It would seem that in the immediate face of tragedy, all sides should wait until facts are gathered. But that doesn’t seem likely in our current media environment.