MINNEAPOLIS — A former cop who became the leader of a white supremacist militia group has been convicted of masterminding a pipe bomb attack on a Minnesota mosque.
Michael Hari, 49, of Clarence, Illinois, was found guilty of five counts and faces at least 35 years in prison for the 2017 attack in which a 20-pound pipe bomb was tossed into the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington as worshippers gathered for prayer.
The same year as the attack, Hari submitted a bid for a federal contract to build President Donald Trump’s border wall.
In a video about the project, which Hari called the “Great Western International Border Wall,” a narrator proclaims that “the wall will be culturally significant … a powerful architectural statement of the determination of the American people to defend their nation and its Anglo-Saxon heritage, Western culture and English language.”
“The wall exists to protect the economic rights of the U.S. population and to protect our way of life from people who have different value systems,” the narrator says.
While Hari plotted the attack, he left it to two younger men — Joe Morris and Michael McWhorter — to carry out the bombing as he waited in a getaway vehicle nearby.
Morris and McWhorter had pleaded guilty and testified against Hari, calling him the brains behind the attack. No one was injured in the explosion.
“Michael Hari’s goal in bombing the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center was to spread hatred, instill fear, and threaten the constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion. This act of violence, driven by hatred and ignorance, shook our community,” U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald said in a statement.
During the five-week trial, Morris and McWhorter alleged Hari coordinated the plan to rent a truck in Illinois which he drove to the Minnesota mosque. He then ordered the two men to throw a pipe bomb into the imam’s office. Morris, 25, testified that Hari claimed the mosque trained ISIS fighters and that the militia group was “taking orders from a CIA agent called ‘Congo Joe’ to harass ‘untouchables,’ such as Antifa and billionaire George Soros.”
McWhorter, 31, said the three were also behind the attempted bombing of a women’s health clinic in Champaign, Ill., just three months after the Bloomington bombing.
In court, prosecutors said Hari and the others formed an anti-government militia group called the White Rabbits. As its leader, Hari wrote a manifesto known as “The White Rabbit Handbook” and recorded a series of xenophobic YouTube videos under the handle “Illinois Patriot.”
A 2018 indictment says that “the group obtained materials used to make explosives, provided weapons and uniforms to group members, and assigned ranks to its members.”
U.S. Attorney John Docherty presented evidence suggesting that the three men planned to carry out a series of criminal jobs to fund their bigoted endeavors, including going on a trip to Cuba to capture the aunt of dead rapper Tupac Shakur, who is wanted by the FBI. They had planned to turn her in for a $1 million reward.
Hari, who once worked as a sheriff’s deputy, has had numerous run-ins with the law. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 months probation for child abduction in 2006 after taking his kids to Mexico and Belize in an effort to not lose custody of the children to his ex-wife.