MANASSAS, Va. - The religious leader at a mosque in northern Virginia said it has been targeted by someone threatening to kill Muslims in retaliation for the shooting in San Bernardino, California.
The Islamic center is also home to a community center and school. The imam said this is a place of peace, but now it is a place with concern. A person called the mosque Wednesday night and left a very specific threat in a voice mail against this mosque.
The person in the voice mail said:
"In the Washington D.C. and northern Virginia area, we'll do to your people what you did to them. We are checking now to see if one Jew has been killed or shot in California."
Friday prayers went on as scheduled at the mosque, but Iman Abu Nahidian told FOX 5 that he has spoken to some of the 200 members here and several people did tell them that they would avoid prayers here because of the threat.
The mosque debated whether or not to go to the police once they received this voice mail because they do get harassing phone calls quite frequently.
So what was different this time? The imam said the fact that the caller specifically referenced the California shooting and suggested retaliation against this mosque brought this call to a different level.
The imam devoted his entire sermon during Friday Muslim prayers to denouncing terrorist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaida and Boko Haram. He said that he would like to have a conversation with the person who called in the threat.
"I would ask him that instead of cursing and having hatred in your heart, why don't you go ahead and ask us question?” said Imam Nahidian. “Why don't we have a dialogue? Why don’t you educate yourself and read our book -- that we have none of those things in our Quran. Islam does not have terrorism in it at all."
Last year, this same mosque was vandalized when someone painted the walls.
Both Prince William County police and the FBI are investigating the threatening phone call. If identified, the caller could face charges of committing a hate crime.