Crime

Lexington mosque receives bomb threat — mailed from England

Masjid Bilal held a grand opening on Oct. 24, 2015, at 1545 Russell Cave Road to welcome the community into its new place of worship.
Masjid Bilal held a grand opening on Oct. 24, 2015, at 1545 Russell Cave Road to welcome the community into its new place of worship.

A Lexington mosque is stepping up security following a bomb threat it received this weekend from overseas.

The bomb threat against Lexington’s Masjid Bilal was received through the mail Saturday from Sheffield, England, said the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a Facebook post.

The letter contained a green index card wrapped in a blank sheet of paper with the words, “An explosive device will be placed at your mosque very soon!” written on it. The letter was opened by mosque president Salah Elbakoush who was busy preparing for a family night for its 250-300 members.

“I was shocked. I did not expect it,” said Elbakoush, who said he has never seen the mosque receive such a threat since moving to Lexington in the early 1990s.

Elbakoush immediately called the Lexington police who sent two officers to investigate. Following advice from the officers, the mosque staff will start a daily walk-through of its facility at 1545 Russell Cave Road.

Kentucky’s CAIR chapter opened just a few weeks ago and is led by Waheedah Muhammad. Muhammad added that Kentucky is home to 20,000 Muslims, 6,000 of which live in Lexington.

“We’re being cautious,” Muhammad said. “We have a strong sense that the Lexington community respects and supports our mosque and Muslims in general and our right to worship as we choose. We feel comfortable in Lexington.”

Threats against mosques have been made almost every month in other American cities since the presidential election. In late November, 10 Islamic centers received letters calling Muslims “children of Satan” and championing President Donald Trump as the “new sheriff in town.” Similar threats were made to mosques in Maryland and Georgia in February. The letter sent to the Greenview Madani Center in Lawrenceville, which is near Atlanta, was from a “Muslim slayer” threatening “death for you and your kind.”

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso

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