A civil rights group has asked the FBI to investigate a threatening letter sent to a Phoenix mosque that was once a place of worship for gunmen in a shooting three weeks ago at a Texas cartoon contest featuring cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations says one of its lawyers spoke with an FBI agent about the letter that was mailed over the weekend to the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, where the gunmen, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, worshipped.
An identical letter also was sent to the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, said Kristy Sabbah, operations coordinator for the advocacy group’s Arizona chapter.
Simpson and Soofi opened fire on 3 May in a Dallas suburb on an unarmed security officer stationed outside the contest, authorities said. The security guard was wounded in the leg before the gunmen were killed.
Simpson regularly attended the Phoenix mosque for about 10 years, but he quit a few months before the shooting. Soofi infrequently attended the mosque but stopped altogether about a year ago.
The letter opens with a reference to the pair’s connection to the Phoenix mosque, threatens the lives of the mosque’s president and his family, and makes a disparaging comment about the prophet Muhammad.
FBI spokesman Anthony Farinacci said the agency is following up on the information it was given.
Usama Shami, president of Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, said the mosque gets threats from time to time but that the letter addressed to him contains threats that were more violent in nature.
“We are not educating people to do violent acts, so why are we being held responsible in the minds of some people?” Shami said.