An Illinois man who was convicted of bombing a mosque said that he was transitioning into a transgender woman and that right-wing blogs and his own gender dysphoria are to blame for his actions.
Michael Hari was convicted in December 2020 of orchestrating the 2017 attack at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. Hari was the leader of an anti-government militia group called the White Rabbits. Some of those militia members testified against Hari in court.
Hari, who goes by Emily Claire Hari, is facing life in prison over the bombing but his defense attorney asked the court for leniency based on Hari’s inner turmoil about his gender identity.
“She strongly desired making a full transition but knew she would be ostracized from everyone and everything she knew,” wrote attorney Shannon Elkins in court documents cited by the Star Tribune.
“Thus, as she formed a ragtag group of freedom fighters or militia men and spoke of missions to Cuba and Venezuela, Ms. Hari secretly looked up ‘sex change,’ ‘transgender surgery,’ and ‘post-op transgender’ on the Internet,” Elkins explained. “As she purchased military fatigues for their ‘missions’ she also purchased dresses and female clothing for a planned trip to Bangkok, Thailand for male-to-female surgery. She was living a double life.”
While no one was hurt in the bombing, the community was traumatized by the violence and Hari was convicted of using a destructive device in a crime of violence and damaging property because of its religious character, among other charges.
Hari, who continues to deny his guilt, blames right-wing blogs and news outlets for his radicalization against Muslims.
“This degrading, anti-Muslim, and Islamophobic rhetoric and misinformation has spread throughout the United States over the past several years through social media and the internet,” Elkins wrote.
Elkins asked the court to deny the terrorism enhancement requested by federal prosecutors and instead sought a 30-year prison sentence, the mandatory minimum allowed for the charges.
Hari had been convicted previously for kidnapping his daughters in a custody dispute and taking them to Belize in Central America.
Hari will be sentenced on Sept. 13.
Here’s more about the mosque firebomb attack:
Feds say Illinois militia leader should be put in prison for life for bombing mosque