Illinois trio linked to bombing cases at mosque and women's clinic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Federal investigators on Tuesday arrested three rural Illinois men on a criminal gun complaint that also links them to an attempted bombing at a women's health clinic in Champaign and a mosque attack in Minnesota.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called the Aug. 2017 blast at Dar Al-Farooq an act of terrorism.

The three connected to the bombings and a fourth Illinois man were arrested on Tuesday morning and charged with possession of a machine gun. They are identified in court records as Michael B. Hari, 47; Joe Morris, 22; Michael McWhorter, 29; and, Ellis Mack, 18, all of Clarence, Ill., a rural community about 35 miles north of Champaign-Urbana.

In court files authorities say Hari, McWhorter and Morris were responsible for the bombing of a mosque in Bloomington, Minn., on Aug. 5, 2017, and the attempted bombing of the Women's Health Practice in Champaign, Ill., on Nov. 7, 2017.

A law enforcement affidavit alleges that all four men were in possession of fully automatic assault rifles from October 2017 to March 2018-apparently the basis for Tuesday morning's arrests. One of the arrestees, Michael McWhorter, told authorities that the men had been involved in other violent crimes in central Illinois and Indiana. McWhorter also provided details of the bomb plots, authorities said.

Federal agents on Tuesday morning said they "executed search warrants at the home of Hari's parents, in Paxton, Ill.. According to the court affidavit, Hari often stays at his parents' home because his home has no running water or electricity. A search warrant was also executed at a store/office owned by Hari, located at 100 S. Main Road in Clarence (Illinois.)"

Even as officials in Illinois sorted through charges against the quartet, federal authorities in Bloomington, Minnesota, were announcing the mosque-related developments late Tuesday afternoon.

When the Minnesota bomb attack occurred in the predawn hours of Aug. 5, 2017 a dozen people were gathered for morning prayers. Nevertheless, no one was hurt-although the blast did heavy damage to the imam's office at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center.

The FBI described the weapon used as an "improvised explosive device," and parts were flown to the bureau's forensic lab in Virginia.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long ordered defendant Hari detained without bond, according to federal prosecutors, based on both risk of flight and danger to the community.

Authorities said defendant Joe Morris requested his preliminary hearing and detention proceeding delayed until Friday afternoon. Judge Long ordered Morris held by the U.S. Marshal Service.

McWhorter and Mack remain in FBI custody pending their initial appearances, both of which are scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.