Published November 20, 2015
Police in Oregon are investigating a man who lived near a mosque that was set ablaze days after a worshipper there allegedly planned to blow up a car at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
Authorities this week searched a home near the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center in Corvallis, confiscated a variety of goods and took DNA swabs from 24-year-old Cody Crawford, who lived at the home with his mother, according to official documents.
The house was searched Monday, a day after someone tried to burn the center 200 feet away, according to an affidavit. An officer asked Crawford why someone might burn the mosque. "Because they don't like Muslims," he's quoted as saying.
No one came to the door of the home Friday night when an Associated Press reporter knocked.
In the disrupted bomb plot, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, has pleaded not guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction Nov. 26, during the lighting of Portland's Christmas tree, an annual event that draws thousands of people.
The FBI said it arrested the Somali-born man after a sting operation that featured six 55-gallon drums rigged to look like a bomb and placed in a van across the street from the square. No one was injured.
The fire at the mosque was set two days after the arrest by someone who broke an office window and threw in a container of flammable liquid, police said. Items in the room were damaged. The FBI said Friday that no one had been arrested in the arson case.
The affidavit says police at the house where Crawford lived took computer and photo gear, propane bottles and a propane burner tip, a cigarette lighter, two plastic bottles, a gasoline can, a small wire with a burned fiber and a white powdery substance.
They also took swabs from Crawford's hands on Monday and his mouth on Tuesday.
Court documents show Crawford's arrest record includes accusations of criminal mischief, assault and spitting food and throwing urine at deputies while in jail.
The court affidavit said police found a flashlight at the fire early Sunday at the Islamic center, and when they canvassed the neighborhood that afternoon, Crawford told them his flashlight had been stolen from the front porch the night before.
When police followed up a few hours later, they reported that Crawford smelled of alcohol, denied he'd been drinking but later admitted to having one beer that evening.
A neighbor of Crawford, Muhammad Alferhan, said Cody knew he was Muslim but never made any derogatory remarks about Alferhan's faith.
"We're still going to give him respect because he's still in the neighborhood, still in his house," Alferhan, who worships at the mosque that was burned, told the AP.
According to the affidavit, Crawford sometimes mowed Alferhan's lawn.
Crawford also mowed the lawn of another neighbor, Darla Saling.
"He just doesn't seem like the type" to burn a mosque, she said. "He doesn't seem angry about anything or have an ax to grind."
She said Crawford has a preschool-age son who would play in the yard.
Crawford was jailed in 2009, records from Washington County show, on a disorderly conduct charge after officers saw him wander into traffic.
While he was in jail, his sister told officers that she was taking care of Crawford's child and feared her brother was having mental health issues.