Crime & Courts

FBI investigating reported death threats against Muslims by N.C. conservative activists

Image of FBI logo superimposed on American flag.
Image of FBI logo superimposed on American flag. Charlotte Observer file image

The FBI’s Charlotte office is investigating reported death threats against Muslims made at a meeting of conservative activists in Kernersville, an agency spokeswoman said Thursday.

“My only recommendation is to start killing the hell out of them,” one participant said, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Washington, D.C. “I’m ready to start taking people out.”

The meeting at a seafood restaurant included a presentation on “a supposed Muslim plot to conquer the United States,” the council said, citing local media reports of the Feb. 16 meeting.

“Shed some blood, too,” the same participant said in response to the presenter’s call to “shed some light” on the issue, according to the council.

The FBI began investigating the threats before CAIR called on the agency to look into the remarks, Shelley Lynch, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Charlotte office, said Thursday. The Observer on Saturday published a story about CAIR’s call for the probe.

“The FBI is aware of news media stories about a recent meeting in North Carolina where comments were reportedly made against the Muslim community,” the agency said in a statement. “We are working with our local law enforcement partners to determine if a federal violation involving threats of violence that is not speech protected under the First Amendment has occurred.

“The safety and security of our citizens is a priority for the FBI, and we have been in contact with local community leaders to assure them we take potential threats of violence very seriously,” the FBI said.

The meeting in a private room at Captain Tom’s Seafood Grill and Bar included Tea Party members, patriot groups and other conservative activists, the Triad City Beat alternative newspaper reported.

Kernersville is in Forsyth County, about 90 miles northeast of Charlotte.

The restaurant has received angry posts on its Facebook page.

“I will never step foot in or support financially this business due to their involvement in targeting and planning the murder of innocent Americans,” one person wrote.

“Keep an eye on your dwindling bank account,” posted another. “Are these clowns worth losing your business??”

In reply, the restaurant posted this statement on Sunday: “We rent a room, we are not affiliated with anyone who rents it.”

In response to the reported call to kill Muslims, according to CAIR, a member of the hate group ACT for America said at the meeting, “I can understand that. But we’re not there yet.”

In reaction to the threats made at the meeting, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said: “Calls to violence against members of any minority group warrant a criminal investigation by state law enforcement authorities and the FBI. We call on President Trump to repudiate the growing bigotry in our nation targeting Muslims, Hispanics, immigrants, refugees and other minority groups.”

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak