American pleads guilty to hate crime over mosque threats

American pleads guilty to hate crime over mosque threats
2 min read
13 February, 2016
A US man has pleaded guilty to hate crime after threatening to firebomb two mosques and shoot worshipers in Florida following the November Paris attacks.
A wave of anti-Muslim attacks took place across the US after the Paris tragedy [AFP]

A Florida man has admitted he threatened to firebomb two mosques and shoot worshipers in the wake of the November Paris attacks.

Martin Alan Schnitzler pleaded guilty in the state of Florida to obstructing persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs, a hate crime, the US Justice Department said on Friday.

Hours after the 13 November attacks in Paris left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded, Schnitzler called and left messages threatening a massacre at two mosques in Florida's Pinellas County.

Schnitzler later said his messages were prompted by the Paris attacks.

In one message, he said that he would have a militia go to the mosque and "firebomb you, shoot whoever is there on sight in the head."

"I don't care if they're [expletive] two years old or a hundred," he added.

Schnitzler left his name in the messages and police had no trouble tracing the cell phone from which he made the call.

"Yes, I'm a red-blooded American watching the news in France. I'm over this shit. I'm calling all mosques in Pinellas County. I'm bringing it to you, baby," he said in a voicemail message left for the Islamic Society of Pinellas County.

"Guard your children. I don't care if you're extremists or not. I'm tired of your shit. Get out of my [expletive] country. And I'm gonna bomb your [expletive] location."

In another voicemail, to the Islamic Society of St. Petersburg, Schnitzler vowed to "personally have a militia that's going to come down to your Islamic Society of Pinellas County, firebomb you, shoot whoever is there on sight in the head."

Schnitzler faces up to 20 years in prison.

"The right to worship as one chooses, free from threats and intimidation, is one of the core principles upon which our great nation was founded," said US Attorney Lee Bentley.

A wave of attacks and threats against Muslims took place across the United States after the tragedy in Paris and a shooting in San Bernardino, California that killed 14 people.