Friend said gay club arson suspect "may be planning terrorist activity"

KIRO 7 has uncovered explosive new details in the case of the Capitol Hill arson at a popular gay nightclub.

Suspect Musab Masmari’s motive may have stemmed from his “distaste for homosexual people.”

Masmari is charged with arson for allegedly setting the fire at Neighbours nightclub shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day.

According to investigative documents filed in King County Superior Court, the 30-year old Masmari told a friend “that homosexuals should be exterminated.”  That friend, a member of the local Muslim community, went straight to the FBI because he believed Masmari may have also been planning a terrorist attack. That friend became a confidential informant.

According to the documents, Masmari first met the informant at Fatima’s Cafe near the Masjid at Taqwa Mosque on Seattle’s East Union Street, shortly after the fire at Neighbours.

The informant contacted the FBI soon after meeting Masmari because he was "concerned" that Masmari "may be planning some terrorist activity" because he spoke of "something he's planning."   The informant told investigators that Masmari told him "he had obtained a rifle."

The unidentified informant also said that, in the numerous conversations after their first meeting, Masmari often expressed a "distaste for homosexual people,” and that Masmari "opined that homosexuals should be exterminated."

“Exterminate is a word you think of - you exterminate rodents, you exterminate roaches, not people,” said Shaun Knittel, spokesperson for Neighbours nightclub.

Knittel would like to see hate crime charges added on to the arson charge. “If that doesn’t fall into the law of a hate crime, I don’t know what does,” said Knittel.

He said Masmari asked the informant during that conversation “whether they shouldn’t be the ones taking the responsibility upon themselves."

Masmari was living in Bellevue when he was arrested.  Neighbor Doug Poirier recognized Masmari from the picture on the news.

"We were all freaked out and concerned when we found out what happened,” said Poirier.  “That’s just a sad hate crime to do something like that - to try to burn down a night club just because it’s gay oriented,” said Poirier.

Prosecutors allege it was Masmari who was captured on surveillance video the night of the fire, carrying what appears to be a gas can.  He's been charged with one count of arson and remains behind bars with bail set at $1 million. But this new information could lead to federal hate crime charges.

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