Joplin, Missouri's Only Mosque Burns to the Ground; Arson Suspected

On July 4th, Joplin, Missouri's Islamic Center — the city's only mosque — suffered roof damage after an unidentified man set it on fire by tossing a burning object onto the building.

On Monday, the mosque burned again — but this time, the damage was far more extensive.

Fire Chief Bill Dunn of neighboring Carl Junction described it as a "complete loss."

The FBI has dispatched some 50 agents to investigate the fire, which special agent Michael Kaste, head of the Kansas City FBI office, characterized as "suspicious."

Some fifty families are served by the mosque, and the loss of their place of worship during the holy month of Ramadan hit especially hard. "It's unbelievable," said congregant Omar Ahmed. "It's a house of worship. It's a place of God."

The Islamic Center's leader, Imam Lahmuddin, expressed defiance in the face of hardship. "This should not stop us from serving God," he told the Joplin Globe. "We still have to fulfill our obligation."

Lahmuddin said mosque members view the fire as "a test from God."

The FBI and the ATF are offering a $15,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest of the arsonist who set last month's fire — a reward that will be extended to include the latest incident, should it be considered deliberate.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is offering its own $10,000 reward for information pertaining to the most recent fire.

[screengrab via KOAM]