FBI says death threats to Pinellas County Mosques not credible

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – FBI agents don’t believe the man who made threatening phone calls to two mosques in Pinellas County Saturday posed an actual danger to anyone. “Our initial review of this matter also disclosed no actual plan or plot to carry out the threats,” said FBI Spokesman David Couvertier. ”We are not aware of any credible Paris related threats to any of our local communities.”

Maybe not, but the tone and the words sure threw a scare into Hatim Jaber when he reviewed recorded phone messages left at the Islamic Society of St. Petersburg Saturday morning. “The first time I heard it I thought someone was playing a prank a joke and the second time I realized this was serious.”

This is part of what Jaber heard in one call: “I’m going to personally have a f—-militia that’s gonna come down to your Islamic society in Pinellas county and fire bomb you shoot whoever’s there on sight in the head I don’t care if they’re two years old or a hundred.”

Jaber says the caller’s phone number showed up on the mosque’s caller ID system and the caller—who left a similar message at the Islamic Society of Pinellas County—didn’t try to hide his identity.

In fact, he bragged about it in messages left at both of the mosques. “My name is Martin Schnitzler come find me, please. Please report me because I would love love it. You’re gonna f—die,” the message said.

Eight on Your Side visited Schnitzler’s condominium in Seminole but no one answered the door. Schnitzler didn’t return a message left at his residence nor did he return the repeated phone messages we left—none of them threatening—on his voice mail. His criminal record is limited to a DUI with property damage in 2008 in which a state trooper arrested him and recorded a blood alcohol level of .21 or about three times the presumed level of impairment. He had to serve probation for that offense and install a device in his car that would prevent it from starting if Schnitzler had been drinking.

Jaber said he’d like to speak to Schnitzler to clear up any misconceptions he has about the Islamic faith in light of self-proclaimed Islamic terrorists who carried out the Paris massacre. “This is just a small group of people who claim to be Muslim,” Jaber said. ”God tells if you’ve taken a life you’ve taken entire humanity and if you save a life you’ve saved entire humanity.”

Whether or not Schnitzler had any real intention of harming anyone, the recorded phone messages appear to fit into the FBI’s published three-part definition of domestic terrorism. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa released a statement Monday saying the incident is now “the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.”

Jaber believes Schnitzler should face prosecution for what he regards as an act of terrorism. “Just so people would learn a lesson I think that absolutely he should be prosecuted for this, said Jaber. “Because anybody else who threatens somebody else’s security whether or not it’s intended or just words absolutely they should be prosecuted.”

 

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