Drat and double drat! Barack Obama was so busy this past week with his “violent extremism” summit that he had no time to respond to two bomb threats aimed at Austin’s Muslim community. The president could have used the opportunity to lecture Americans once again on how “no one in the United States should be targeted because of how they worship,” but the chance has evaporated. Reports out today confirm that the threat was a hoax. Not only were there no bombs, but the man behind the threats is himself a Muslim.
From Austin ABC affiliate KVUE comes word that the perpetrator, whose name has not been released, is a Muslim man in his 50s.
Police said two bomb threats were made around 7 a.m. Tuesday at 11900 North Lamar Boulevard at the North Austin Muslim Community Center and a Middle Eastern-style food truck near the Arab Cowboy Cafe and Hookah Lounge at 901 West 24th Street.
Police told KVUE that staff at the community center took a man in his 50’s, believed to be homeless, in for the night. They called EMS just after 7 a.m. saying the man had some kind of medical issue, possibly psychiatric problems. On the way to the hospital, police said the man told EMS workers he put bombs at the two locations. Investigators did not find explosive devices at either location.
“I didn’t know what to think. You know, you never expect that sort of thing” said Dawn Scheel, who owns the Arab Cowboy with her husband, a Muslim from Tunisia. “I’m going to assume it’s one misguided soul.”
Clay Chip Smith, who attends the mosque at the community center, said he stopped by the business when he saw the police presence. He described Austin as an “oasis” for Muslims.
“Once they know us, they love us,” Smith said. “[It’s] sad to see this kind of thing happening.”
The missed opportunity to frame the bomb threat as a hate crime would have fit in nicely with “the wave of Islamophobia that,” in the imaginings of Obama supporters like Vox’s Max Fisher, “ISIS has inspired in the U.S.”
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