US army Major threatened to kill Muslim worshipers

US army Major threatened to kill Muslim worshipers
A Major in the US Army Reserve has been arrested after threatening to kill Muslim worshipers and leaving bacon at a mosque in North Carolina, authorities said Friday.
4 min read
12 Jun, 2016
Langford threatened worshipers with a gun [Hoke County Sheriff]

A Major in the US Army Reserve threatened to kill Muslims and left bacon at a mosque during Ramadan, authorities in the state of North Carolina said Friday.

Russell Thomas Langford, 36, made death threats against members of Masjid Al Madina, in Raeford, North Carolina.

"He told people at the mosque that he would kill them and bury them behind the mosque," said Capt. John Kivett of the Hoke County Sheriff's Office.

"He brandished a weapon while he was on the property."

Langford was charged with ethnic intimidation, assault with a deadly weapon, going armed to the terror of the public, communicating threats, stalking and disorderly conduct, the sheriff’s office said.

The incident began Thursday afternoon when the man insulted a mosque member doing construction work nearby and then left the packages of bacon at the mosque entrance, according to authorities and witnesses.

Pork is often used in hate attacks against Muslims.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said the act constituted a desecration of the place of worship.

Witnesses say the suspect left and returned armed to the Masjid Al Madina mosque several times, prompting tense moments inside while children sheltered in the back of the building. Authorities said there were no injuries.

At one point, the suspect followed one member home, resulting in the stalking charge, according to a Hoke County Sheriff's Office news release.

Authorities found several handguns and other weapons, plus about 500 rounds of ammunition in Langford's vehicle.

Langford, who works full-time as a major in the Army Reserve, served two tours in Iraq.

Langford appeared in court on Friday, and was released on a $60,000 secured bond.

Since posting bond, Langford has been placed under the control of his commander on base at the Fort Bragg military base according to Army Reserve spokesman Capt. Eric Connor.

Langford, who works full-time as a major in the Army Reserve, served two tours in Iraq while on active army duty and earned the Bronze Star for "outstanding dedication to duty during combat" while with a military police battalion, Connor said.

The threats came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked authorities to investigate the case as a possible hate crime and increase patrols around the area, especially during nighttime Ramadan activities.

Kamal Allan, said he was leading a crew of workers tearing down a nearby outbuilding when the suspect drove up in the late afternoon on Thursday.

Allan said Langford began insulting him and using expletives while asking white crew members, "Do you know who you're working for?"

"I said: 'Don't talk to him. Don't talk to him. Just leave him alone and let the police handle it," Allan said.

Retired Army officer Mohammed Khan, who served three decades in the military, said he was delivering tables to the mosque when Langford drove up. He said he spoke calmly to Langford, who was spewing hate and eventually flashed a gun at him.

"I was kind of dismayed, shocked and in disbelief. In all of my 32 years of military service I never encountered this kind of redneck," said Khan, who still serves as a volunteer Muslim chaplain at Fort Bragg.

"He told me to go back to my country. I said, 'Which country do you want me to go to? Give me the ticket and I will fly.' He said, 'No I will not give you a ticket. I will kill you and bury your body right there.'"

Khan said Langford followed another member of the mosque to that person’s home.

Witness Abdu Alsaidi, another mosque member, said police were called in the late afternoon, but they didn't arrest Langford until sometime after 8 pm.

At one point while Langford was parked outside the mosque, Alsaidi said members made children move to the back of the building for fear of an attack.

"Our life was on the line," he said. "The way he acted, he didn't care about anybody."

Agencies contributed to this report.