A Fayetteville, North Carolina man was sentenced Thursday to eight months of home confinement for threatening members of the Masjid Al Madina Mosque in Raeford, North Carolina, according to federal prosecutors.
Russell Thomas Langford, 36, plead guilty on Nov. 7, 2016, to a one-count Information that charged him with a felony for threatening mosque members in order to obstruct their free exercise of religious beliefs.
“He told people at the mosque that he would kill them and bury them behind the mosque,” said Capt. John Kivett of the Sheriff’s Office, according to the Daily News.
“He brandished a weapon while he was on the property.”
For the entire Daily News story click here: Threats
Witnesses said Langford made death threats to worshippers of the mosque in Raeford, taunted children, attempted to run over one of the community’s members in his vehicle, and pointed a firearm at a worshipper. Langford also was accused of leaving bacon outside the mosque. The Quran prohibits Muslims from eating pork, according to Fox News.
As a result of his plea, Langford admitted that on June 9, 2016, he threatened several mosque members and used a dangerous weapon in doing so. On that date, Langford repeatedly drove past the Masjid Al Madina Mosque.
Eventually, he saw a mosque member leaving the area. Langford followed the mosque member to his home before returning to the mosque.
Back at the mosque, Langford approached another mosque member, identified by the initials M.K. Langford threatened to kill M.K. and bury M.K. on the mosque premises, before pointing a firearm in M.K.’s direction.
Langford then drove away. When Langford returned to the mosque again that night, he was stopped by several mosque members, who called the local authorities.
During his multiple contacts with members of the Masjid Al Madina Mosque, Langford repeatedly referred to mosque members using derogatory anti-Muslim terms. Langford admitted that he knew Masjid Al Madina was a mosque and that the people he targeted with his threats were engaged in activities related to the mosque.
Accordingly, in pleading guilty, Langford admitted that he acted intentionally to threaten the mosque’s members and obstruct their religious exercise.
“The free exercise of religion is a foundational principle of our society,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wheeler. “Hateful threats designed to obstruct this right to religious freedom and to intimidate members of a religion simply because of their beliefs have no place in our communities. An attack on one religion is an attack on all religions. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute crimes motivated by religious animus.”
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