Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer Get NY Mosque Arson Story Wrong - updated 1/5/12

Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer Get NY Mosque Arson Story Wrong

by Sheila Musaji

Before the alleged perpetrator was arrested for the rash of arson fires in New York, we posted the basic information known to date from Islamophobia Watch.  That article included the few facts that were initially known:  The homemade explosives were hurled at a bodega, the Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center in Jamaica and two homes between 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., police said. All of the targets were in Jamaica, within two miles of each other, police said. “They definitely appear to be quite similar,” a police source said, “We’re looking into them as bias crimes.”

Initially, except for the mosque, no information had come out about the other three targets.  Mayor Bloomberg said that the arsons were being investigated as hate crimes. This is standard procedure any time a target is a church, synogogue, mosque, or other place of worship. 

Since a mosque was recognizably one of the targets, CAIR issued a press release condemning any attack on places of worship,  CAIR also called on mosques to step up security.  No one yet know anything about the other targets.  No one yet knew that one private home was also used for Hindu services.  No one knew if there would be more attacks. Therefore, initially, the concern was that these very similar crimes were all related to anti-Muslim sentiment.  Any attack on a place of worship needs to be taken seriously, and in this case CAIR was doing its job in expressing concern and calling on the Muslim community to be vigilant.

As information came in the original TAM article was updated.  Here are those updates

A little more is now known.  In addition to the mosque, one of the targets was a bodega, one of the homes hit was that of a Hindu family who sometimes held Hindu religious services in their home, one was an African-American family.  Police are investigating whether some or all of these were bias crimes.

Police said they were looking for a man, 25 to 30 years old, about 5-foot-8 and weighing about 200 pounds. They said he fled the scene in a light-colored, four-door sedan with a sunroof. They were offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.  *** 

The New York Post has published security camera video of the man throwing a molotov cocktail at one of the homes, and a sketch of the perpetrator ***

Today,  Ray Lazier Lengend, a 40-year-old of Guyanese descent has been arrested on five counts of criminal possession of a weapon, five counts of arson one considered a hate crime for these firebombings.  He has been taken to a hospital for a psychiatric examination.  *** 

According to various reports, Lengend may or may not have committed any of these acts as a hate crime, but the details and motives are still being investigated.  The NY Daily News reports that he faces hate-crime charges for one arson attack on the mosque because of “broad anti-Muslim statements” he made during his confession. ***

While the police were still looking for the perpetrator, they released a sketch drawn from witness desriptions. The sketch appeared to be a young African-American man. 

Pamela Geller immediately posted an article in which she lamented what she claimed was a media focus only on the mosque and not the other targets.  She posted the police sketch at the top of the article and said Here’s the a sketch of the perp; looks like a CAIR member.  Color me skeptical. We find time and time again, in the rare instances when a mosque has graffiti or falls victim to some prank, the perp is Muslim. More times than not.  She then posted an article by Matt Lacy from another site giving his take on events to date.

How a sketch of the face of an African-American man would automatically “look like a CAIR member” is beyond any rational understanding.  Throwing molotov cocktails is not “some prank”.  There have been numerous instances of mosques being vandalized, shot at, firebombed, etc., and in fact, in most instances the perp was not a Muslim.  TAM has a lengthy collection of attacks on mosques HERE.  They are not “rare instances” or just “pranks”. 

Use of this sort of language to trivialize a serious crime is simply one more sign of Geller’s bigotry and heartlessness.  Attacks on any house of worship should be a concern to all decent people.  If someone paints swastikas on a synagogue or a mosque, that is not just harmless graffiti. 

A Marietta, Georgia mosque vandalism was actually found to have been carried out by a Muslim, and Roger Stockham who planned to bomb a Dearborm mosque appears to have been a Muslim convert.  Stockham was also mentally ill.  Otherwise, the perpetrators that have been caught and arrested have been almost entirely non-Muslims.  Here are just a few examples only from the U.S.:

— Robert J. Goldstein was arrested for planning to blow up a list of about 50 mosques in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.  He had a plan document which said the objective was to “Kill all ‘rags’ at this Islamic Education Center—ZERO residual presence—maximum effect.” ***

— Cody Crawford who called himself a “Christian warrior” was arrested for a firebombing arson attack on a Corvallis, Oregon mosque.  ***

— Sylvia Sunshine was arrested for a mosque vandalism in Sacramento, California ***

— Police arrested Three men in connection with the vandalism of a Hudson, NY mosque.  Christopher Osborn, 20; Roy Francis, 20; and James Glover, 19, were charged with felony first-degree aggravated harassment, misdemeanor fourth-degree criminal mischief (hate crime), and misdemeanor fifth-degree conspiracy.  ***

— Five men were arrested after gunshots were fired and obscenities were shouted from two vehicles outside the World Sufi Foundation mosque in the Orleans County town of Carlton, New York.  The five arrested were 18 and 17-year-old males, with Mark Vendetti being charged with a felony weapons account and criminal possession of a weapon, regarding firing the shotgun outside of the mosque. Mark Vendetti, Anthony Ogden, Jeff Donahue, Tim Weader, Dylan Phillips.  ***

– Three men were arrested on hate crime charges in connection with the vandalism of a mosque in Hudson, NY.  The suspects are Christopher R. Osborn, Roy J, Francis, both 20, and James Glover III, 19.  ***

— Danny Mower, a Madera, California man pled guilty to civil rights violations in connection with arson at Planned Parenthood and vandalism of a Madera Mosque.  ***

— Two teens, Michael Derek Lobo and Juan Carlos Gonzalez-Vaca were arrested for vandalism of West Kendall mosque in Florida.  One said that they did it because “all Muslims are terrorists”.  ***

You get the idea.  Pamela Geller can print anything she wants and claim that it is a “fact”, but that doesn’t make it true.

Not one to leave well enough alone, Robert Spencer wrote this NY mosque firebomber motived by “personal grievances”—will Hamas-linked CAIR apologize?  - asking both CAIR and Mayor Bloomberg to apologize for having expressed concern that this may have been a hate crime.  Actually, like his partner Pamela Geller, Spencer jumps to conclusions before all of the facts are in.  The mosque attack is still being investigated as a hate crime because of anti-Muslim statements made to the police by the alleged perpetrator.

There is no reason for anyone to apologize except perhaps Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and their fellow Islamophobes.

UPDATE 1/5/2012

The New York Daily News reports that had planned to take out “as many Muslims and Arabs as possible” by lobbing Molotov cocktails at worshipers inside a mosque, prosecutors said.  Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, allegedly told cops he had planned to inflict “as much damage as possible” by hurling all five of his firebombs from the balcony of Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center onto the crowd below.  The hateful bomb-hurler, who is under psychiatric observation at Bellevue Hospital center, flat-out told detectives he did not like Muslims or Arabs, prosecutors said.  ***


Geller and Spencer have shown time and time again that they have a tenuous grasp of the concept of “truth telling”.  They have attempted to conceal evidence when they have been caught in lies and distortions.  They have also shown time and time again that they have no qualms about exploiting a tragedy to further their own agenda.  The Belgian shooting tragedy, and the Hollywood shooting tragedy are just two of the most recent examples.

There is a reason that the ADL (A Jewish anti-defamation group) has said that Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) is a “group that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”.  There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that they are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.  There is a reason that Geller and Spencer are featured prominently in the Center for American Progress “Fear Inc.” report on the Islamophobia network in America.  There is a reason that Geller is featured in the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.  There is a reason that Geller is featured in the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack:  The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State.  There is a reason that Geller is featured in the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security.  There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature.  There is a reason that they are featured in our TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.  There is a reason that Geller is featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.