Mar 14, 2018, 11:04 AM ET

FBI arrests men linked to mosque bombing, attempted bombing of women's health center

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Four men from rural Illinois have been charged in a newly filed criminal complaint that links the bombing of a Minnesota mosque last August and the attempted bombing of an Illinois women's health center in November.

FBI agents on Tuesday morning arrested Michael Hari, 47, Michael McWhorter, 29, Joe Morris, 22, and Ellis Mack, 18, all of Clarence, Illinois, on a criminal complaint that charges them with possession of a machine gun. According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, investigators have gathered evidence indicating that three of the men -- Hari, McWhorter and Morris -- were responsible for the bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Aug. 5, 2017, as well as the attempted bombing of the Women's Health Practice in Champaign, Illinois, on Nov. 7, 2017.

The FBI had been investigating the men based on information provided by confidential informants in December and January, tying the men to the bombing and the attempted bombing, according to the complaint, which was filed Tuesday in federal court in Illinois.

PHOTO: Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., Aug. 5, 2017. David Joles/Star Tribune via AP
Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., Aug. 5, 2017.

On Feb. 19, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) received an anonymous tip via email that explosive devices may be found in the back of a property in Clarence, Illinois. The tip claimed that the property owner, identified in court documents as "J.O.," has been “buying a lot of weird chemicals like nail polish remover and battery acide (sic)” and that he is “always talking about getting the n------” and that he is making a “n----- schredder (sic).”

The anonymous tipster also wrote, “i (sic) am afraid someone will get hurt if someone doesn’t do something I also sent something about it to the newspaper so if you just blow it off like you did that school schooter (sic) kid in florida (sic) the press will know you got a tip so you better check it out.”

The tipster was making an apparent reference to the FBI’s failure to follow up on tips on 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who later was accused of gunning down 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.

PHOTO: Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., Aug. 5, 2017. David Joles/Star Tribune via AP
Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn., Aug. 5, 2017.

According to the affidavit, McWhorter later admitted to investigators that he, Hari and Morris participated in the mosque bombing as well as the attempted bombing of the women’s health center. McWhorter told investigators that the mosque bombing was not intended to kill anyone, but they wanted to "scare them out of the country," in reference to Muslims, and to “show them hey, you’re not welcome here, get the f--- out," according to the affidavit.

McWhorter also admitted that he, Hari and Morris planted the explosive devices on J.O.’s property and that Hari sent the tip to the ATF to get J.O. in trouble prior to a pending court case in which Hari is charged with assault against J.O., according to the affidavit.

McWhorter further admitted to participating in an armed robbery in Illinois and a home invasion in Indiana, according to the affidavit.

PHOTO: An undated image from Google Maps shows the Womens Health Practice in Champaign, Ill.Google Maps
An undated image from Google Maps shows the Women's Health Practice in Champaign, Ill.

The affidavit alleges that Hari, McWhorter, Morris and Mack were in possession of assault rifles from October 2017 to March 2018. Three of the four assault rifles associated with the men were tested by the ATF and found to be fully automatic, according to the affidavit, which makes the firearms illegal to possess without ATF approved tax stamps and paperwork.

An FBI spokesman told ABC News the investigation is ongoing.

Attorneys for Hari and Morris did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.

McWhorter and Mack are scheduled to make initial appearances in court Wednesday. There were no legal representatives for either of the men listed on the court docket.

ABC News' Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

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  • King Warbeast

    It really angers me that the words "Terrorists" and "Terrorism" are completely absent from this story. Why is that? You can't get a more definitive example of a terrorist acts than what was committed by these disgusting individuals. I'd really like to hear ABC's reasoning behind omitting this very relevant terminology.

  • Fermer Votre Bouche

    What are the odds they all have red MAGA ball caps? (aka maggot caps)

  • RRbane

    Again & again whites loving peace Christians in action got busted. Glad they got these three terrorists behind bars.

  • CantStoptheSignalM

    But but but ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS!!

  • allison kirkpatric

    These Trump supporters should be in prison for many years!

  • reality25

    More Trump loving terrorists?

  • j-m

    the tipster did a great job accentuating the urgency on this one.

  • Jukka-Emil Vanaja

    When Public Education Fails: The TV show.

  • The Outlier

    Terrorists. They are TERRORISTS. For an industry that understands the power of words, our 'journalists' are whitewashing wimps. These are domestic terrorists. Period.

  • Puddin' Twain

    Christian terrorists.

  • John Michael Davis

    Michael Hari, 47, a former sheriff’s deputy who was convicted of kidnapping his daughters and taking them to a Mennonite community in Central America more than 10 years ago, is accused of being the leader of a group that also includes Joe Morris, 22; Michael McWhorter, 29; and Ellis Mack, 18, all of Clarence, Illinois.

  • Nick

    More of Trump's finest voter base.

  • novamcln

    Odd video for the story. Less than half of it was about another white dude who tried to blow something up again, the rest was about a puppy who died because a flight attendant made the family stuff it in an overhead compartment, but maybe the family didn't tell anyone the puppy was in the bag. I wanna hear more about the dead puppy now. Dead puppies on air planes are a lot less common than white dudes trying to blow stuff up now days. It's a problem. Enough is enough! I've had enough of these m@#$#r f+#&^in' dead puppies on this m@#$#r f+#&^in' plane!

  • John Michael Davis

    I wonder what kind of jobs these people had, if they had one at all. ?

  • VikingHokie

    We need to figure out what is radicalizing white men in this country

  • Red Hawk

    the attempted bombing of an Illinois women's health center in November.=== They word scum used against these cretins would be a complement .

  • SGNH

    " McWhorter told investigators that the mosque bombing was not intended to kill anyone, but they wanted to "scare them out of the country," in reference to Muslims, and to “show them hey, you’re not welcome here, get the f--- out," according to the affidavit."
    Still think deplorables isn't a fair statement?

  • harveyyaz

    These are the kinds of terrorists we need to stop.

  • Nate

    So, the anonymous tip came from the suspects themselves... because they were trying to get someone else in trouble? While fully acknowledging the severity of the situation, I have to chuckle a little bit at the karma at play here. These guys are smart enough to augment semi-automatics into full-autos, as well as construct explosive devices, but they failed to assess that this half-baked plan would backfire. In addition to that, their inability to use the English language correctly continues to perpetuate the podunk, racist, trailer-trash stereotype. It wouldn't surprise me if that they hold sentiments along the lines of: "Those damn immigrants don't know no any English. When yer in America, yer sposed to speak Murican!"

  • Rocket Cat

    What a bunch of douches.

  • Rodney Bayburn

    What a bunch of losers. One is far more likely to be killed by a white male christian terrorist than a brown skinned Muslim one, that I can tell you.

  • Mari Marigold

    Let me guess? Trump supporters.

  • My Dimesworth

    More Trump supporters acting badly. They're "good people" according to Pres. David Dennison.

  • JuPMod

    I think a lot of these American extremists failed in their history class, or else they would know America represents *all people* of race, religion, culture, etc. They had forgotten the spiritual meaning behind 'We The People'.

  • VikingHokie

    wait you are kidding another terrorist attack by white men.... I didnt see that coming /sarcasm