CAIRO - Amid escalating attacks on houses of worship in the US, Chicago police authorities have arrested a 51-year-old man on charges of shooting at a mosque during evening prayers, the incident reflecting obviously an alarming breach for the security of American religious minorities.
"This is obviously an alarming situation that all parties are taking very seriously, Ahmed Rehab, executive director of Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) said in the statement cited by Chicago Tribune on Sunday, August 12.
The weapon allegedly used in this incident is powerful enough to kill, and the projectiles reportedly came within inches of the head of the security guard on duty.
Announcing the incident, CAIR said that two air rifle shots struck the outer wall of the Muslim Community Center of Chicago overnight while 500 people prayed inside.
The shots were heard by worshippers who were outside the mosque and were powerful enough to damage the building's brick wall, it added.
According to Rehab, the projectiles reportedly came within inches of the head of the security guard on duty.
Investigating the incident, Morton Grove police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US attorney's office arrested David Conrad who was charged with shooting at a mosque he lives near in north suburban Morton Grove.
Police confiscated a "high-velocity air rifle" from the home of the 51-year-old man, who lives just east of the mosque.
When officers got there, the guard told police that windows at the center have been damaged in the past, but "a number of them" were never reported to authorities.
"Due to the sensitive nature of the incident and with the previous criminal damage there, we contacted the Cook County state's attorney's office," Morton Grove police Chief Mark Erickson said.
"It's important to know that no one was injured," he said.
"We have a safe community here and we'll ensure that a complete and thorough investigation will continue until this matter is resolved," Erickson said.
Scheduled for a bond hearing on Monday, Conrad was charged with three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm and one count of criminal damage to property, all felonies.
Alarmed by repeated attacks, Chicago Muslims said they trust the US authorities would strive to preserve the security of the religious minority.
"We have full trust in the professionals handling this investigation," said Rehab, CAIR-Chicago executive director.
They are doing everything in their power to keep communities safe and ensure that justice is served.
The Muslim Education Center is a suburban branch of the Muslim Community Center, which is the oldest Muslim center in the state.
Earlier this week, CAIR issued a community safety advisory for mosques following crimes targeting Muslims and Sikhs.
The warning followed an arson attack on a Joplin mosque in southeast Missouri in which the mosque was burned to the ground last Monday.
The arson fire at the Joplin mosque followed the deadly shooting at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in which seven people were killed.
All across the US, mosques have been facing fierce opposition recently.
At least 35 mosque projects from Mississippi to Wisconsin have found foes who battle to stop them from seeing light citing different pretexts, including traffic concerns and fear of terrorism.
Even more, some mosques were vandalized including a 2011 Wichita mosque arson case.
In multicultural New York, a proposed mosque near Ground Zero site has snowballed into a national public and political debate, with opponents arguing that the Muslim building would be an insult to the memory of the 9/11 victims.
Advocates, however, say that the mosque would send a message of tolerance in 9/11-post America.