ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A leader of an anti-government militia group who bombed a mosque in Bloomington four years ago faces 53 years in federal prison.
Emily Hari, formerly known as Michael during her trial, was convicted on five counts in connection to the attack in which she and two other co-defendants threw a pipe bomb into an imam’s office at Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in August 2017.READ MORE: 'It Was Pretty Chaotic': At Least 3 Dead In Montana Amtrak Train Derailment
Prosecutors sought a life sentence they said would have matched the “severity of the defendant’s crimes.” The defense asked for mandatory minimum of 30 years, arguing Hari’s goal was to “scare” not hurt and that a life sentence would be a grave punishment.
But after a seven-hour hearing in federal court in St. Paul Monday, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank sentenced Hari, 50, to 53 years in prison.
“What the evidence showed is it was clearly an act of domestic terrorism against a religious group,” Frank said.
No one was physically injured in the attack, but it left deep emotional scars in the Muslim community. Nearly two dozen people gave victim impact statements recounting — at times through tears — the trauma they have endured since the bomb went off.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: #Top10WxWeekend Continues With Summery Sunday
Mohamed Omar, who is executive director of the Dar al-Farooq mosque and was present during the attack, testified that incident is still traumatizing him while he goes to pray.
“The magnitude of the explosion shook me,” Omar said. “It damaged all of us — our sense of security.”
Several people said they suffer from anxiety. Mothers spoke about fearing for their children’s safety. Idris Yusuf, who was 9 years old at the time of the bombing, said that he was scared, wondering if attackers would harm Muslims in their homes, too.
“I always have the thought in the back of my head that someone might hurt me because I’m Muslim,” he said.
After the sentencing, community members said that while they wanted a life sentence, they are satisfied with 53 years for the crime.MORE NEWS: MN Rep. Ilhan Omar Visits Afghan Evacuees At Fort McCoy Calling It 'Uplifting' And 'Emotional'
The judge said he’s prepared to recommend Hari to serve in a women’s prison. The two other co-defendants who pleaded guilty in this case are in jail awaiting sentencing.