Prosecutors allege hate crime at mosque

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Prosecutors have charged a 36-year-old Auburn man with a hate crime for threatening to kill people at a mosque.

The incident happened Jan. 6 outside the Islamic Center of the Eastside.

Kamal Samater, who himself identifies as Muslim, walked up to worshipers and shouted.

"I am going to assassinate you guys one by one," he said according to court document. "There is no place in America for Muslims."

Bellevue Police arrested Samater.

He is charged with malicious harassment, which is a hate crime, and felony harassment.

However, some members of the mosque have a different take on the situation.

“Several of us have met the person before,” Ahmed Brown said.

“Clearly, this was an individual who is mentally disturbed and mentally unsound.”

Brown said there have been recent incidents of hate committed against Muslims and their houses of worship.

The sign outside the Muslim Association of the Puget Sound has been destroyed twice recently. In October, a rock was thrown through a window at the Islamic Center of the Eastside.

The dozens inside thought someone was shooting at them.

Those recent attempts to intimidate, and more, were discussed Tuesday at a “Muslim Safety Forum” in Redmond.

Members of a Bellevue mosque say they've had so many recent acts of vandalism that they're forming a security committee....

Posted by Joanna Small on Sunday, October 23, 2016

Brown said as scary sounding as the Jan. 6 incident was, he is not sure if it was truly a hate crime.

“If a person without psychiatric issues came into a place of worship, and began harassing, or insulting, or threatening bodily harm, that would be a different case,” Brown said.

“In this case, I think it’s just another testament to the poor investment in mental-health care in this state and nationwide.”

KIRO 7 will follow up with the King County Prosecutor’s Office on Friday to get more information about what went into the decision to charge Samater with a hate crime.

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