RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (PIX11) — The FBI is working with Suffolk officials to investigate an explosion outside a Ronkonkoma mosque as a possible Hate Crime.
A large crescent moon – a Muslim symbol – was burned outside the Masjid Fatima Al-Zahra mosque on Lake Shore Road on Monday morning, officials said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said that authorities are analyzing the remnants of the device, which he says contained an accelerant.
Tierney said investigators believe the crescent was specifically targeted, adding “it’s free-standing on the top of a hill, so an individual would have to walk up the hill and specifically set the device against the sign.”
People who live nearby said they heard the explosion early Monday morning.
“We heard like a big bang, so we looked over … and the moon was on fire,” said a man who didn’t want to give his name. He then used a stick to help put out the flames.
Surveillance video from the mosque shows the moment the fire started, and two people standing on the sidewalk nearby.
Imam Ahmed Ibrahim made a plea for understanding.
“We’re peaceful people. Come understand who you attacked,” he said. “We can speak and listen to each other.”