Chicago Mosques Increase Security After New Zealand Attacks

on Mar15
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2019-03-15 08:23:03

Muslim organizations and community centers in the Chicago area called for increased security Friday after mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques left at least 49 people dead.

“As the details of the story continue to develop, we urge all of our community members to be vigilant, especially while attending Friday prayers and for our mosques and center to take increased security precautions,” the Council on American Islamic Relations – Chicago said in a statement.

“The horrific active shooter scenario at a mosque is something we all pray never happens, there is no active intelligence that there is any immediate threat in the US. But we cannot be complacent,” CAIR-Chicago’s statement continued, urging mosques and worshipers to contact local law enforcement to ask for increased patrols, notify mosque leadership to raise awareness and general “keep an eye out” for any suspicious behavior.

The attacks took place beginning at around 1:45 p.m. at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch, where at least 41 people were killed. A witness who lives next door said he saw a man dressed in black enter the mosque and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running outside in terror.

The second shooting took place at the nearby Linwood Masjid Mosque, where at least seven people were killed and an eighth died at an area hospital.

Police said they took three men and a woman into custody after the shootings, and one was charged with murder.

Authorities have not specified who was detained, but said none had been on any watch list. A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for the attack. He said he was a 28-year-old white Australian and a racist.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the attacks represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” calling it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

“Our deepest condolences to all affected by the tragic #NewZealandShooting,” Chicago police said on Twitter Friday morning. “People of interest have been taken into custody from that horrific incident & there are no known threats to the city of Chicago.” 

“Special attention will be given to Chicago mosques as a precaution,” CPD added. 

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Chicago’s Muslim Community Center said in a statement that the organization was “horror-stricken to hear the news” of the shootings.

“Our heartfelt Duas go out to all of the victims, their families and the Muslim communities that have been tragically affected by the gunmen who killed our brothers and sisters half way across the world,” MCC President Kamran Hussain said in a statement, adding that the organization had notified police in Chicago, as well as in Morton Grove and Skokie where the Muslim Education Center and MCC Academy campuses are located, asking for extra patrols for the next few days.

Hussain said the MCC would also be hiring additional security personnel to patrol in and around the community center.

“Please be vigilant by keeping your eyes and ears open and being aware of your surroundings,” the statement continued. “Report any suspicious activities to security staff or the police and help your fellow brothers and sisters if they require assistance. And most important, always trust in Allah (swt).”

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