Police, FBI investigate bomb threat at Islamic Center in Butler County

The mosque at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester Twp. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
The mosque at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester Twp. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Police are investigating a bomb threat made at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester Twp.

A message was left on the Islamic Center’s answering machine on Saturday, but employees there did not receive the message until Monday, immediately reporting it to West Chester Police Department, according to Barb Wilson, a spokeswoman for the township.

Police thoroughly checked the premises and are working with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Wilson said.

“The police are taking all steps necessary to investigate this threat,” she said.

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The Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati opened in 1995 on 18 highly-visible acres between Interstate 75’s Cincinnati-Dayton Road and Tylersville Road exits.

The center has served the local Muslim community by providing a place to worship and learn, as well as serving as a gathering place for families and the community. It also hosts tours for the community and local school groups.

Shakila Ahmad, the Islamic Center’s board chair and president, said she learned of the bomb threat at the Islamic Center while preparing a statement in support of the Jewish community following bomb threats made to Jewish community centers nationwide and the desecration of headstones in Jewish cemeteries.

“It’s extremely dismaying and very disheartening and frightening, honestly, to have something like that happening,” Ahmad told the Journal-News. “It’s very upsetting, as leadership, to staff, to the community and I think it’s a wake up call for all of us.”

No community is immune from such threats, she said.

“Our leaders, regional and national, have to stand up and really crack down on this climate of hatred and this climate of threats and outright violence,” Ahmad said. “We’ve had a number of murders in other parts of the country as a result of people just being different.”

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Ahmad said she urges all people to be “extra vigilant” and report to local law enforcement anything of concern.

“I think people sometimes are intimidated and don’t report threats or crimes and that is opposite of what they need to be doing,” she said.

In the past year, there have been three reported threats of violence at the Islamic Center in West Chester, not including this most recent one, Wilson said.

In one case, police indicate the call appeared to be made more as a prank by children, she said.

The two others were of a type more similar to this most recent call, but there’s no evidence that they were connected in any way to Saturday’s call, Wilson said.

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