Arson investigators probe blaze at Houston, TX Islamic center

By Camilo Smith Feb. 14, 2015 | 12:41 PM |

REUTERS – Houston arson investigators on Saturday were working to determine what caused a fire that destroyed a building at an Islamic institute in the city, officials said.

No one was injured in the early Friday blaze at the Quba Islamic Institute, fire officials said.

The fire destroyed one of three buildings at the center, which remains fully operational.

Arson investigators with the Houston Fire Department were working to pinpoint the cause of the blaze, but no official determination has been made, fire officials said.

In a video on the institute’s Facebook page, Ahsan Zahid, an assistant imam, said fire officials told him the fire appeared to be arson.

He also urged the Islamic community and supporters not to assign blame until the investigation concluded.

Zahid told Reuters a series of odd events preceded the blaze.

On Thursday, members were shaken when a man drove by yelling at them.

“We were leaving the premises, and a person driving a pickup truck was chanting in Arabic phrases, like terrorist do before they explode suicide bombs,” he said.

The chants mockingly repeated the name of Allah, he said.

Earlier in the week, a man with his face covered had to be chased from the property, he said.

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