TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol—The Florida Police have arrested a Boholano who is living in Florida, USA whom investigators say was plotting to attack a mosque.
Bernandino Gawala Bolatete, 69, a Filipino immigrant to the US, planned to target the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, said the FBI.
He is facing a federal charge for possessing a silencer not registered to him, according to officials.
In a report by Action News Jax on Monday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Bolatete “had expressed a strong anti-Islamic sentiment” and “had weaponry to carry out the attack.”
He told an undercover agent he planned to climb the mosque’s minaret and that he had five rifles to use in the attack, according to an FBI complaint.
“It will be great, right,” he said while laughing, according to the FBI transcript of the secretly recorded conversation.
The FBI say Bolatete, who suffered from kidney problems, told an undercover agent he wanted to “shoot up” a mosque before he died.
Authorities said the suspect did not plan to survive the attack.
Police said the community was never in danger during their investigation, which began with an anonymous tip-off.
In a statement, the chairman of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida said they were “shocked” to learn of the investigation.
“We have no idea as to what was the motivation this individual had for his planned heinous act,” said spokesman Mr. Ashraf Shaikh.
On Tuesday, the suspect’s brother Pedro Bolatete told local news channel CBS 47, the suspect works at Wacko’s liquor store in nearby Emerson.
Bolatete is a native of Tagbilaran City who used to work as an insurance executive at a Metro Manila firm before migrating to the United States of America.
He arrived in the US in 2010 after his brother petitioned the US government for a visa, known as a green card.
A civil rights investigation is underway and Bolatete could face more charges, FBI officials said. /jpv