An incendiary device thrown onto the symbolic crescent outside a Ronkonkoma mosque is being investigated as a hate crime, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said Tuesday. The incident was caught on camera. Newsday TV’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday/Cecilia Dowd; Kendall Rodriguez; Mohamed Ahmed

This story was reported by multimedia journalist Cecilia Dowd, Ted Phillips and John Valenti. It was written by Phillips and Valenti.

An incendiary device that exploded late Sunday outside a Ronkonkoma mosque is being investigated as a hate crime, Suffolk County law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

A metallic crescent moon was damaged in the explosion at the Masjid Fatima Alzahra Mosque on Lake Shore Road, according to Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison.

“A hate crime towards the Islamic Muslim community is a hate crime toward all Suffolk County residents,” Harrison said at the mosque Tuesday. “This is something that everybody should be angry about.”

Imam Ahmed Ibrahim told Newsday he was inside the mosque late Sunday night after performing the last prayers when the device went off.

“I [heard] the big explosion, I thought, 'it is just Fourth of July,' ” Ibrahim said. When he looked outside, Ibrahim said, he saw the crescent on fire and “people coming from the street, trying to put out the flames with dirt.”

The attack on a religious symbol that Ibrahim said is comparable for Muslims to the crucifix for Christians, left him feeling “really very hurt.”

“We are so peaceful here,” Ibrahim said. “We have good relations with everybody, good relations with the neighbors, good relations with other religions.”

Harrison said the device was similar to a Molotov cocktail and the police arson unit is investigating. Police are scouring social media to see if anyone is chatting online about the incident, he said. A surveillance video obtained by Newsday appears to show two individuals approaching the crescent.

The mosque opened about three years ago in a building that used to house a Veterans of Foreign Wars post. The crescent was installed in the spring and cost about $10,000, mosque officials said.

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said his office is working with the police department as well as the FBI to try to track down those responsible.

The people at the “mosque are good community partners, they’re welcome here,” Tierney said. “We're not going to let the actions of a few dictate the life quality of the many.”

Tierney said whoever is found responsible could face felony charges but he wasn't specific.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which tracks anti-mosque incidents nationwide, there were five on Long Island from 2010 to 2021. Officials with the Ronkonkoma mosque said this was the first incident they’ve experienced.

Hassan Ahmed, a member of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Anti-Bias Advisory Council, said it is sad that “hate still exists.” 

The attack took place not only in a "place of worship and peace but … on a morning where American Muslims like ourselves and Americans are celebrating what makes America great," Ahmed said. "It should be that we all have the ability and our families have the ability to practice and worship safely in our communities and be good community partners.” 

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison with Inman Ahmed Ibrahim...

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison with Inman Ahmed Ibrahim outside the Masjid Fatima Al-Zahra Mosque in Ronkonkoma on Monday. Credit: John Roca

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