Plainfield Police investigate bullet holes found in Islamic Center's sign

Islamic Center targeted by vandals: 6pm
Islamic Center targeted by vandals
Vandalism at Plainfield mosque
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Local Muslim leaders are reporting cases of vandalism and threatening messages at the Islamic Society of North America Headquarters and Mosque in Plainfield. 

Plainfield Police now tell Eyewitness News that the bullet holes were first noticed by a maintenance worker last week, but were not reported to police until this week.

Friday prayer was the first time many members of the mosque learned about the bullet holes in their front sign. 

"I was a little shocked. It shakes me up. I grew up in this community so this building as a whole is kind of like home to me," Ali Kahn said. 

Police say the bullet holes were noticed on the sign off South County Road 750 East by a maintenance worker last Friday.  

"It is absolutely hurtful and it is a little bit scary at the same time. I'm just thankful that they didn't come any closer to the building," said Faryal Khatri, Communications for the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA. 

Though the sign may have been damaged before the shootings in Orlando, ISNA has received a hateful tweet and email since the massacre. 

The email included the following messages:

  • "Leave now before it is too late. We see and hear what your going to do and True Patriots like myself, will help to stop you."
  • "I tell every sand (expletive) that I see to leave... American's don't want you here and when President Trump gets into office, your going home!!! Back to the (expletive) dry sand and the desert..." 

"Typically, we feel very safe and Plainfield is a really great community overall. So I still continue to feel safe, despite these incidents, because I know that's not representative of the entire town of Plainfield, but we do still need to heighten security," Khatri said. 

The mosque was also targeted in February, when hateful graffiti including messages and drawings was discovered on the side of the building. 

"Unfortunately this is becoming the new norm. I wouldn't say that we are getting used to it, but we expect it," said Hazem Bata, Secretary General of ISNA. "This is the new reality that we live in."

"I was shocked, initially, I was a little saddened, but not entirely surprised given the environment we live in," Faryal Khatri said.  

Members hope all Americans can understand that national tragedies touch them too. 

"Me, the community here, this building, it's just as American as anything else. When lives are lost, we grieve just like anyone else does," Kahn said. 

ISNA is now consulting with the FBI and local law enforcement to increase security. Bata says the building will now remain locked at most times. They are also considering adding security during prayer services. 

Bata and Khatri also both emphasized the organization's concern for the victims of the Orlando massacre. 

"While certainly this is very uncomfortable and difficult on the community, this certainly pales in comparison to what the community in Orlando is going through and the families of the victims so we want to keep everything in proper perspective," Bata said. 

"The communities and the families of the victims of the Orlando shooting are going through so much more and I don't want this to overtake that. This is nothing compared to what they are feeling," Khatri said. "But it's really hurtful because we really aim to build bridges and this is something that counters that, so we hope to continue to build bridges and continue to foster relationships, because knowing someone is the best way to get over some of those fears of the unknown."