FBI investigating Neighbours arson suspect

by: David Ham Updated:

SEATTLE, Wash. —

A spokesperson for the FBI confirms to KIRO 7  that its investigators are working with Seattle police officers in the Neighbours nightclub fire on New Year's Eve.

On Saturday, 30-year-old Musab Masmari was arrested as he was headed to Sea-Tac airport with a one-way ticket to Turkey.

Detectives believe Masmari is the man seen in surveillance video with a gas can, just moments before 750 patrons ran outside when the sprinklers went off.

"We offered our assistance to SPD in order to assess the possibility of a federal hate crime.  The FBI participated in initial interviews with the subject on Saturday and continues to investigate the incident," said an FBI spokesperson.

In the past few years, Masmari was arrested on charges of property destruction and DUI, and was convicted of an assault.

On Seattle's Capitol Hill, many bar owners and business owners have banned him from establishments.

Benjamin Steanger works on Broadway and has seen him in bars.

"A few times at the bar, he just grabs some dude's books and starts reading it and the bartenders like yelling his name and he's like, 'Dude that's not your book that's not your book,' " said Steanger.

On Masmari's Facebook page, he posted a poem about terrorism.

However, Steanger and other people Masmari has had run-ins with in the past do not believe that Masmari is homophobic or a terrorist.

"If anything, something just probably just flipped in his head.  I dont know what.  Who knows?  Maybe it was a run-in with a bartender or something, maybe that would make more sense than anything else," said Steanger.

At a court hearing, a friend of Masmari's showed up and told KIRO 7 that he believes that Masmari suffered from an alcohol problem and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A judge postponed his bail hearing until an Arabic-speaking interpreter was available.

He's still being held at the King County jail in Seattle on no bond.