By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – The man who set fire to the Al-Huda Islamic Association and later was shot and killed by police did not match the profile of a terrorist, FBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Josh Hauxhurst said Feb. 19.
He said, during a gathering at the Al-Huda Mosque, he understands that this type of crime is terrifying to the community directly impacted as well as the entire Muslim community, many of whom he said are understandably worried about other potential threats.
“Since the fire at the Al-Huda Mosque, the FBI, the ATF, the Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police Department and the Dearborn Police Department conducted a coordinated and comprehensive investigation to determine exactly what happened, how it happened, and perhaps most importantly, why it happened,” he said.
Hauxhurst said the FBI investigates federal hate crimes and terrorism incidents.
“Since the incident occurred, our goal has been two-fold: First, to determine whether Ahmed Taqi had either a political or ideological motivation, and second, whether he acted alone,” he said. “It is important to note that Taqi may be the only one who knows exactly why he set the fire here at the mosque.
“However, based on evidence collected, interviews conducted to date, and law enforcement reports of prior contacts with Taqi, there is no indication that Taqi was either politically or ideologically motivated.”
Hauxhurst said that there is no indication at this point that Taqi, 37, of Dearborn, was acting as part of a group.
“Now, it’s important to note, in most cases of political or ideological motivated violence, you see the perpetrators intentionally telegraphing their motivations in an attempt to promote their beliefs,” he said. “We have not seen that in this case.”
Hauxhurst said Feb. 18 that only a week has passed, and the investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information about Taqi is encouraged to contact the Dearborn Police Department or the FBI.
Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said part of the purpose of the gathering was to show solidarity for one another regardless of one’s faith or background.
He said the gathering also served to provide the community with the opportunity to hear about the investigation directly from the FBI.
“What I can tell you is that when I received that call early that Saturday morning, I immediately asked the questions, ‘Why would this happen, how has this occurred, what did occur?’” he said. “And, rather than wait patiently, I decided to come down myself, to see for myself what unfolded.”
Hammoud said that before a 911 call occurred, police officers had already responded due to Police Chief Issa Shahin’s new neighborhood police deployment strategy.
“It ensures that we have a stronger community policing presence, and that we have police officers patrolling our neighborhoods in critical times,” he said. “I think that is something to recognize.”
Hammoud assured residents that he will make information that he is allowed to release available to the public as quickly as possible.
Shahin acknowledged the response and courage of the Dearborn police officers in the face of extreme danger, and extended his sincerest condolences to Taqi’s family.
“I believe that when something like this happens it is a failure of society or the system in some way,” he said.
Shahin said that at 1:10 a.m. Feb. 12 Dearborn police officers discovered a fire at the Al-Huda Mosque prior to a 911 call that went to the dispatch center.
“Within three seconds of their arrival, they took gunfire from an individual later identified as Ahmed Taqi,” he said. “For the next 19 minutes, Dearborn police officers followed Mr. Taqi as he walked southbound on Lonyo Avenue, pleading for him to surrender and drop his firearm.”
Shahin said that in the area of Lonyo and Henderson, Taqi turned and leveled a firearm at the police officers and fired his weapon, after which the Dearborn police officers returned fire, striking Taqi.
“Once the scene was secure, Dearborn rescue personnel attended to Mr. Taqi, and determined that his wounds were fatal,” he said. “Following the incident, the Detroit Police Department and the Michigan State Police have been handling the shooting investigation, and the FBI, alongside the Dearborn Police Department has been handling the investigation here at the mosque.”