Bloomington, MN – The militia leader who spearheaded the 2017 bombing of a Bloomington mosque deserves a lenient sentence because the biological male now identifies as a woman and was struggling with “inner conflict” at the time of the attack, according to the defendant’s attorney.
Michael Hari, the 50-year-old founder of “The White Rabbits” militia, faces up to life in prison for her role in the August 2017 bombing of the Dar al-Farooq (DAF) Islamic Center, FOX News reported.
Hari was ultimately convicted on five federal counts in December of 2020, to include possession of an unregistered destructive device, carrying and using a destructive device during and in relation to crimes of violence, conspiracy to commit federal felonies by means of fire and explosives, intentionally obstructing and attempted to obstruct by means and threat of force the free exercise of religious beliefs, and intentionally defacing, damaging, and destroying religious real property because of the religious character of that property, according to FOX News.
Her sentencing is slated to take place on Sept. 13.
Defense attorney Shannon Elkins said in a recent court filing that her client now identifies as a woman and goes by the name of Emily Claire Hari, which she wants the court to legally recognize, FOX News reported.
Elkins blamed Hari’s actions on “inner conflict” fueled by online anti-Muslim content and gender dysphoria and urged the court sentence her to the 30-year mandatory minimum sentence.
She further argued that Hari should be given an amended prison assignment since she now identifies as a woman, FOX News reported.
Hari has never confessed to having taken part in the bombing, the Star Tribune reported.
“Emily Hari is more than a one-note caricature,” Elkins told the court, according to the Star Tribune. “She is a complex human being who has been convicted by a jury of her peers. She will stand before this Court for sentencing, facing life in prison. She asks the Court to consider a sentence that is just and proportionate rather than vindictive or symbolic.”
Elkins painted her client as a victim, claiming she only founded the militia group because she was struggling with knowing “she would be ostracized from everyone and everything she knew” if she went through with “making a full transition” like she so desperately wanted, according to the paper.
“Thus, as she formed a ragtag group of freedom fighters or militia men and spoke of missions to Cuba and Venezuela, Ms. Hari secretly looked up ‘sex change,’ ‘transgender surgery,’ and ‘post-op transgender’ on the Internet,” the lawyer wrote. “As she purchased military fatigues for their ‘missions’ she also purchased dresses and female clothing for a planned trip to Bangkok, Thailand, for male-to-female surgery. She was living a double life.”
Prosecutors described Hari as someone who vehemently hated immigrants and Islam and alleged she viewed them as threats to America, the Star Tribune reported.
She even wrote a manifesto, in which she declared Islam to be anti-American and anti-Christian, according to prosecutors.
Hari also demonstrated racism by declaring that “America is a white, Christian country.”
She developed a list of targets, to include the mosque, and told her followers it was an ISIS recruiting and training facility.
On Aug. 4, 2017, Hari and two accomplices loaded up in a rented truck filled with a 20-pound black powder bomb, a sledgehammer, and multiple firearms and headed over to the mosque, where they proceeded to bust open a window to the imam’s office, the Star Tribune reported.
Worshippers were gathering inside the mosque for morning prayers when the suspects hurled the bomb through the window.
Hari supervised from her seat in the truck while her accomplices carried out her instructions, according to court testimony.
The three bombers gave each other high-fives as they drove off, the Star Tribune reported.
Prosecutors said Hari’s bomb “was an act of terror intended to destroy the heart of a community.”
“The property damage was collateral to [Hari’s] real purpose,” they said.
“To this day, the Dar al-Farooq community feels unsafe gathering, praying, and bringing their families to the mosque,” prosecutors noted, according to the Star Tribune. “With a single calculated attack, the defendant irrevocably destroyed the sense of safety and peace that a house of worship is supposed to provide.”
U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald released a statement after Hari’s conviction, noting that the purpose of the bombing “was to spread hatred, instill fear and threaten the constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion.”
“This act of violence, driven by hatred and ignorance, shook our community,” MacDonald wrote. “Today’s guilty verdicts represent a condemnation of that hatred and uphold our fundamental right to live and worship free from the threat of violence and discrimination.”
But Elkins claimed Hari is just a misunderstood “pacifist” who has spent time living with various cultures around the world, the Star Tribune reported.
“She is not a ‘White Nationalist,’ a ‘Neo Nazi,’ a ‘Skinhead,’ a ‘Boogaloo Boi,’ nor part of the ‘Arian [sic] Brotherhood,’” the attorney declared.
Elkins alleged Hari was simply influenced by conspiracies and misinformation published online and pushed by certain unnamed politicians, the Star Tribune reported.
“This degrading, anti-Muslim, and Islamophobic rhetoric and misinformation has spread throughout the United States over the past several years through social media and the internet,” the defense attorney lamented, according to FOX News.
She said her client’s advanced age is reason enough for a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence.