Militia Leader Gets 53-Year Sentence In Minnesota Mosque Bombing

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A photo provided by The Ford County Sheriff’s Office in Paxton, Ill., shows a militia leader who was convicted of master­minding the bombing of a Minnesota mosque under the name of Michael Hari, and who got a 53-year sentence under the name Emily Claire Hari.

Ford County Sheriff’s Office via AP


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Ford County Sheriff’s Office via AP

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Law enforcement officials investigate the 2017 explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn.

David Joles/Star Tribune via AP


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David Joles/Star Tribune via AP

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Women pray outside the police tape surrounding the center after the mosque bombing.

Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP


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Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP

Women pray outside the police tape surrounding the center after the mosque bombing.

Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP

Authorities say Hari, 50, led a group called the White Rabbits that included McWhorter, Morris and others and that Hari came up with the plan to attack the mosque. Prosecutors said at trial that she was motivated by hatred for Muslims, citing excerpts from Hari’s manifesto known as The White Rabbit Handbook.

McWhorter and Morris, who portrayed Hari as a father figure, each pleaded guilty to five counts and testified against her. They are awaiting sentencing.

It wasn’t initially clear how the White Rabbits became aware of Dar al-Farooq, but the mosque was in headlines in the years before the attack: Some young people from Minnesota who traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State group had worshipped there. Mosque leaders were never accused of any wrongdoing. Hari’s attorneys wrote in court filings that she was a victim of online misinformation about the mosque.

Assistant federal defender Shannon Elkins also said gender dysphoria fueled Hari’s «inner conflict,» saying she wanted to transition but knew she would be ostracized, so she formed a «rag-tag group of freedom fighters or militia men» and «secretly looked up ‘sex change,’ ‘transgender surgery,’ and ‘post-op transgender’ on the internet.»

Prosecutors said gender dysphoria is not an excuse and said using it «to deflect guilt is offensive.»

Prosecutors asked for several sentencing enhancements, arguing the bombing was a hate crime led by Hari. They also say Hari committed obstruction when she tried to escape from custody during her transfer from Illinois to Minnesota for trial in February 2019. Hari denied trying to flee.

Hari, a former sheriff’s deputy and self-described entrepreneur and watermelon farmer, self-published books including essays on religion, and has floated ideas for a border wall with Mexico. She gained attention on the «Dr. Phil» talk show after she fled to the South American nation of Belize in the early 2000s during a custody dispute. She was convicted of child abduction and sentenced to probation.

Before her 2018 arrest in the mosque bombing, she used the screen name «Illinois Patriot» to post more than a dozen videos to YouTube, most of them anti-government monologues.

Hari, McWhorter and Morris were also charged in a failed November 2017 attack on an abortion clinic in Champaign, Illinois. Plea agreements for McWhorter and Morris say the men participated in an armed home invasion in Indiana, and the armed robberies or attempted armed robberies of two Walmart stores in Illinois.

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