The man who was arrested for attacking the mosque and officers has beenÂ described as a “White Quebecer who may be a member of an extremist organization.”
Police arrested a 47-year-old man early Tuesday morning who was caught trying to vandalizing a Rosemont Islamic community centre.
Itâ€™s the fifth time since April that same mosque has been targeted.
Police say the man attempted to throw a Molotov cocktail through a window of theÂ AssahabaÂ Islamic Community Centre at the corner ofÂ BÃ©langerÂ Street andÂ 23rdÂ Avenue before threatening officersÂ with a sword. Police used a stun gun to subdue the man before arresting him and then transporting him to hospital.
Const. SimonÂ DelormeÂ described the man as a whiteÂ QuebecerÂ who may be a member of an extremist organization.
He said police were stakingÂ out theÂ community centre this morning, following another incident over the weekend. That’s when police saw the suspect try to attack the centre.
â€œThen they start to follow this man and ask for backup. When they try to arrest the man [he took] out a sword and was threatening the police officers,â€? saidÂ Delorme.
Five attacks since April
Police had started surveillance on the community centre because of multiple attacks over the past six weeks. An axe was thrown through the centreâ€™s window on April 8 with anti-Liberal and anti-Muslim messages attached.
In mid-April, a letter containing white powder was sent to the community centreâ€™s director,Â AdilÂ Charkaoui. That envelope is still being analyzed.
Charkaoui told CBCÂ DaybreakÂ host Mike FinnertyÂ Tuesday morning that the letter also contained death threats against him personally.
â€œThey have lists of people to kill and they put my name first,” he toldÂ Daybreak.
Last week, an item was thrown through one of the buildingâ€™s windows with the message, â€œKill Islam,â€? according to members of the centre. Then its front door was broken over the weekend.
â€œItâ€™s a small mosque in a quiet area,” Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said on CBC’sÂ DaybreakÂ on Monday. “To receiveÂ these kinds of attacks is of deep concern to us.â€?
He said the people who attend the community centre are frightened by the attacks andÂ called on Premier PhilippeÂ CouillardÂ to denounce the acts.
â€œIt creates a kind of anguish within the people who frequent the mosque. Because of this we need to show support and also we need the political leadership to show that there is a political will to fight any of these kinds of actions,â€? Elmenyawi said.
CharkaouiÂ pleased with police help
Charkaoui, a Morocco-born Muslim who settled in Montreal with his family in 1995, is the community centre’s director. He’s also a somewhat controversial figure.
He was the subject of a security certificate issued in 2003 and spent more than six years under suspicion ofÂ being anÂ al-QaedaÂ sleeper agent. He was detained for 21 months and when released, had to wear an electronicÂ GPSÂ bracelet until the certificate was cancelled in 2009. However,Â CharkaouiÂ always maintained his innocence and successfully challenged the Canadian government at theÂ Supreme Court twice.
Montreal police said investigators are looking at all possible angles, including whether thisÂ particular community centre was targeted because of its connection toÂ Charkaoui.
He said the police reacted promptly and added more patrolsÂ in the neighbourhood around the community centre.
â€œIt was very good collaboration,â€? Charkaoui said.