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Crime & Justice

Amid threats to SoCal mosques, a look behind hate speech probes




FILE: Muslims attend celebrations for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of fasting during the month-long Ramadan, at the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino, California on July 6, 2016.
FILE: Muslims attend celebrations for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of fasting during the month-long Ramadan, at the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino, California on July 6, 2016.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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At least four Southern California mosques have received threatening letters in the past week and Muslim leaders are calling for more vigilance.

"We want the community not to be fearful, but we want them to take necessary precautions," said Masih Fouladi, legal advocate at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The letter, signed anonymously as "Americans for a Better Way," called Muslims "vile" and "filthy people" and said Donald Trump is going to "cleanse America" and "do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews."

These letters appear to be part of a bigger trend of threats and hate crimes tallied both during the presidential campaign and in the weeks following the election. Nationwide, attacks rose by 78 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year and in California that increase surged to 122 percent, according to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University,  San Bernardino.

Warning: The following letter contains that might be disturbing to some readers. 

A photo of a letter received in recent days by the Islamic Center of Southern California. The Koreatown mosque was one of several in Southern California that received similar letters.
A photo of a letter received in recent days by the Islamic Center of Southern California. The Koreatown mosque was one of several in Southern California that received similar letters.
Courtesy of Muslim Public Affairs Council

Police are investigating the letters, said Commander Horace Frank, assistant commanding officer for LAPD's Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau. At this point, the letters do not constitute a crime, he said. But law enforcement are taking the case very seriously.

"We want to make sure that this person doesn't have other ulterior motives, we want to make sure this is not the first step in them taking the next overt act," said Frank.

To listen to the interview, click on the blue media player above.