CAIR Welcomes Arrest in Terror Plot Targeting Northern California Muslims

Muslim civil rights group concerned about violence prompted by recent rise in Islamophobic political rhetoric

The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, today thanked law enforcement authorities for swift action in investigating and arresting a Richmond, California, man who allegedly plotted to bomb local Muslims.

According to reports, 55-year-old William Celli was reported to law enforcement for making explosive devices in his home. He allegedly intended to use them to target the local Muslim community. On Sunday, December 20, police evacuated his home and parts of the surrounding neighborhood. Police say they found and safely detonated the device.

“We thank law enforcement authorities for their swift action and we will monitor this alleged case of domestic terrorism closely as it moves through the legal system,” said CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo.

CAIR-SFBA called for increased security at mosques and Muslims organizations, federal charges for Celli, and for an across-the-board repudiation of anti-Muslim political rhetoric.

On Friday, CAIR released a preliminary report on incidents targeting American mosques and religious institutions in 2015 that shows a greater frequency of damage, destruction, vandalism, and intimidation than in any other year since CAIR started tracking such cases in 2009.

Of the total of 71 incidents to date in 2015, 29 occurred since the November 13 terror attacks in Paris. Of those 29 incidents, 15 occurred prior to the December 3 San Bernardino killings and 14 took place after that attack.

SEE: CAIR Report on Anti-Mosque Incidents

On Thursday, CAIR-SFBA welcomed hate crime charges against a Bay Area woman who verbally and physically assaulted a group of Muslim men praying at Lake Chabot.

SEE: CAIR-SFBA Welcomes Hate Crimes Charges for Anti-Muslim Attack; Urges Community Vigilance

The news of those charges came just days after an anti-Muslim shooting in Canton, Michigan, and attacks on three mosques, including a fire bombing, in Southern California.

Earlier in the month, the CAIR offices in DC and Santa Clara, California, were evacuated after a suspicious substance was mailed to them.

SEE: Suspicious Substance Prompts Evacuations at Santa Clara CAIR Muslim Civil Rights Offices

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, 626.252.0885, zbilloo@cair.com; CAIR-Sacramento Valley Executive Director Basim Elkarra, 916.289.3748, belkarra@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202.744.7726, ihooper@cair.com