Oregon man arrested in mosque arson attack

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 25, 2011 3:09 PM
Oregon man arrested in mosque arson attack

PORTLAND, Ore (Reuters) - Federal agents have arrested a man charged with setting fire to a mosque in Oregon last year, two days after the arrest of a Somali-born teen accused of trying to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Cody Seth Crawford, 24, was arrested on Wednesday night and charged with arson in connection with the fire set November 28 at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Corvallis, the FBI said on Thursday.

A news conference was set for later in the day to reveal more details of the investigation.

But the Portland Oregonian newspaper, citing an FBI affidavit filed in court, reported that Crawford had been detained by police and taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation in December after he was observed waving a knife and ranting angrily about Islam.

The fire at the mosque was confined to one office in the building and nobody was hurt.

But U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the next day federal authorities were investigating whether the arson was in retaliation for the arrest of a Somali-born teen, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, in a sting operation involving a fake bomb he is accused of trying to detonate at a crowded Christmas tree lighting in Portland.

Mohamud, now 20, took some classes at Oregon State University in Corvallis, about 80 miles south of Portland, and had occasionally attended prayers at the Corvallis mosque.

Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges and is awaiting trial in Portland.

(Reporting by Teresa Carson in Portland; Editing by Steve Gorman and Cynthia Johnston)