Fairfax County Police are investigating vandalism to an mosque that had been scheduled to open next month in Chantilly.
Vandals smashed glass in windows and doors of the mosque, causing an estimated $60,000 in damage, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has put out a press release asking the FBI to investigate.
“Any time a house of worship is targeted in this manner, law enforcement authorities must consider a possible bias motive,” said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR national communications director.
County police responded to the construction site of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Mosque, 4555 Ahmadiyya Drive, shortly after 8:30 a.m. Jan. 30. Police found extensive damage to the mosque, which still is under construction, but found no evidence the building was entered.
In addition to evidence related to the destruction, several discarded containers of alcohol were discovered, said police spokesman Bud Walker.
“Those containers are being processed for evidence,” he said. “I believe there were both cans and bottles.”
Police think the vandalism was a random act and not a hate crime, Walker said. Police did not find graffiti or other writings at the scene.
“At this stage it appears to have been some young people who consumed alcohol and then made some bad choices, but there does not appear to be any indication that the facility was targeted because it was a mosque,” Walker said.
But according to Hooper, mosque officials think the site was targeted because of the extent of the damage and the fact that nothing was stolen.
The FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office has not yet indicated whether or not it will join the investigation. Calls made to the office were not returned.
“This is not something that we would traditionally request the FBI’s assistance on, but of course it is up to them whether or not they will investigate,” Walker said.
Hooper said the opening of the mosque, which has been anticipated for the past decade, will be delayed because of the vandalism.
“[This] is an affront to the American traditions which we hold dear,” U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said in a statement about the incident. “We must not remain silent when any house of worship is attacked like this on our soil.”
Police said records are being checked to see if any other area Islamic structures have been vandalized, and that neighborhoods surrounding the mosque are being canvassed by officers seeking information.
“A number of recent reports have documented the growth and promotion of Islamophobia nationwide,” Hooper said.