Trump Silent on Foiled Mosque Mass Shooting
On Monday, the FBI arrested Bernandino Bolatete of Jacksonville, Florida thereby preventing a planned mass shooting at a mosque. Though the operation falls squarely into the territory of thwarting an act of domestic terrorism, the Trump administration has remained silent on the issue.
The Planned Attack
According to the criminal complaint, the agency began their investigation after receiving a tip from a “concerned citizen” about Bolatete intending to “shoot up” a mosque. “According to Cl, BOLATETE expressed a hatred for Muslims and made a specific threat to “shoot up” a mosque,” the complaint says.
Thereafter the local FBI office in Jacksonville engaged Bolatete through an undercover investigation:
Since the introduction, BOLATETE and the UC [undercover officer] have met on several occasions to shoot various weapons at local shooting ranges. During these meetings, BOLATETE repeatedly expressed his hatred of Muslims, and told the UC about his medical condition involving his kidney.
During conversations with Bolatete, the FBI successfully captured conversations demonstrating the man was not only radicalized, but intent on murdering innocent people based on their religious views. During one conversation documented in the complaint, an undercover officer was able to get Bolatete to admit to plans involving the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida located in Jacksonville.
“Keep shooting those Muslims, you know, on Friday,” Bolatete explained, laughing.
“Is Friday the day they go?” the undercover officer asked.
“Yeah. They go on Friday. Thei .. their .. their Sunday for Christians is uh, Friday” Bolatete responded.
Later in the conversation, Bolatete added, “So we’ll try … we will try a Christian doing uh, terroristic [sic] act this time, hum, to the Muslims the, they [laughing] they doing it all the time. You know?”
Thereafter, he described how he would carry out the mass shooting in excruciating detail.
“Eh, the .. go up to the tower and start shooting. It will be…it will be great, right?” he said, laughing.
“Have you already gone over there and know how to get in the tower, because it looks like its in the middle?” the undercover officer asked.
“Yeah. I. .I know. It’s not in the middle. It’s on the side,” he responded.
“Oh okay. Oh so you have already been over here and looked at it?” the officer asked.
“Yeah,” Bolatete said.
He admitted to owning five rifles and that he needed to obtain a silencer because “might need it” – an act the FBI ultimately seized upon as Bolatete wanted to obtain it illegally to avoid a paper trail.
Bolatete’s anti-Muslim views that led him to believe he had to mass murder a mosque full of believers can be traced at least partially to right-wing websites propagating fake news about Muslims. His Facebook page contains at least one open post from obscure conservative website:
In another post- a photo of himself holding a firearm – he commented, “Time to be serious buddy. Let’s help keep America safe, free and peaceful! Don’t just be a part of the helpless victims and statistics of these crazy ‘jihadists,’ at the same time protecting our 2nd Ammendment [sic] rights. Long live America!!!”
Given that Bolatete is a Philippines national living in the United States on a green card, a casual observer would think Donald Trump should be all over the story. However, due to the nature of Bolatete’s radicalization, his line of reasoning and arguments against Muslims, it’s isn’t surprising Trump has remained silent.
Commenting on the planned attack, Ashraf Shaikh, the chairman of the Islamic Center’s board, told News4Jax, “It’s very sad that something like this was being planned or threatened in Jacksonville. Thank God that out law enforcement (agencies) were vigilant, that they got wind of it and handled it very professionally.”