Members offer forgiveness after arson revealed in investigation

VICTORIA – Members of the Victoria Islamic Center are finally receiving some answers after their mosque burned down January 28.

On Wednesday, the Houston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Victoria Islamic Center Mosque and Crime Stoppers announced a reward of up to $30,000 for information leading up to the arrest and indictment of the person or group responsible for the fire that destroyed the mosque.

The investigative agencies have classified the fire as incendiary, or intentionally set, according to a press release. They included the evidence does not indicate the fire was a hate crime.

“We are working closely with our local law enforcement and emergency service partners on this investigation and ask that anyone with information about this incident please report it,” said Fred Milanowski, ATF special agent in charge.

Members of the mosque say they were devastated to learn the new details released Wednesday.

“We’re quite frankly devastated by the news because I can’t imagine why anybody would want to inflict such harm on a community of Muslims who did nothing,” said Omar Rachid.

Investigators hope by releasing these new details will welcome new leads as they continue their investigation.

“I am certain that 100% that had they known any members of our congregation they would of not had done it,” said Rachid. “Because what they would’ve discovered had they interacted with any of us is that they would of found is that we are very gracious people.”

Anyone with information about this crime should contact ATF at 1-888-283-3474 or Crime Stoppers at 361-572-4200.

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