WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that a federal grand jury in Eugene, Ore., has indicted Cody Crawford, 24, of Corvallis, Ore., on federal hate crime and arson charges for intentionally setting fire to the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center.
According to the indictment, Crawford is charged with one count of damaging religious property and one count of arson. Crawford allegedly set fire to the mosque during the early morning hours of Nov. 28, 2010, less than two days after authorities arrested an individual in connection with the Portland Christmas Tree Lighting terror plot. The indictment alleges that Crawford set the fire because of the race, color or ethnic characteristics of individuals associated with the mosque.
“Burning a house of worship because of hatred toward members of one religion is not just an attack on that religion; it is an attack on our core American values,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will aggressively protect the rights of all persons to worship without fear of violence or intimidation.”
“Freedom of religion is essential to who we are as Americans,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Dwight C. Holton. “We will not tolerate attacks based on faith.”
“The ability to live, work and worship freely, without fear or intimidation, is the very foundation of our society. We cannot allow any person to threaten the rights of those citizens we are sworn to protect,” said Greg Fowler, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “Today’s arrest demonstrates our continued commitment to the FBI’s core mission: to protect our community and to protect the rights of all Americans as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”
If convicted, Crawford faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison.
This case is being investigated by the Portland Division of the FBI, the Corvallis Police Department and the Corvallis Fire Department, in conjunction with the Benton County District Attorney; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Benton County Sheriff’s Office; and the Monmouth and McMinnville Police Departments. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William E. (Bud) Fitzgerald for the District of Oregon and Trial Attorney Fara Gold of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.