Image: Cody Crawford
Rick Bowmer  /  AP
This December 2010 file photo shows Cody Crawford in Corvallis, Ore.
By
updated 8/25/2011 6:27:00 PM ET 2011-08-25T22:27:00

Federal officials arrested a 24-year-old man on charges of firebombing an Oregon mosque last year and said he was motivated by racial hatred following the arrest of a Muslim man accused of plotting to set off a car bomb in Portland.

Cody Crawford, who has been under investigation since the Corvallis mosque was torched Nov. 28, was arrested Wednesday night at a home in the nearby town Monmouth. Officials said he did not resist arrest.

He was indicted on charges of damaging religious property for racial reasons, which is a hate crime, and using fire to commit a felony.

"This was an attack on religious freedom and an attack on the American way of life," said Dwight Holton, U.S. attorney for Oregon.

Story: DOJ official: Muslims face rising discrimination

The mosque firebombing occurred just two days after FBI agents arrested a Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, in a sting operation at Portland's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Mohamud was charged with plotting to kill people at the ceremony by igniting a car bomb.

Mohamud had occasionally worshipped at the Corvallis mosque.

The mosque's office burned, but nobody was hurt.

Crawford appeared briefly in court Thursday, did not enter a plea, and was ordered held in jail while legal proceedings go forward.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bud Fitzgerald said Crawford has bipolar disorder and is an alcoholic — and would be a flight risk if released.

'Jihad goes both ways'
Court documents show that three weeks after the mosque firebombing, in unrelated encounters with police, Crawford ranted about Muslims, said Christians are capable of jihad and told an officer he resembled President Barack Obama.

"You look like Obama. You are a Muslim like him. Jihad goes both ways. Christians can jihad too," a court document quotes Crawford as telling a McMinnville officer Dec. 14.

The document says Crawford told officers "only Christians could understand him, that he was a Christian warrior that they were persecuting," and that "you will never know the truth about the mosque."

Crawford also said he did not torch the mosque, according to the affidavit.

Crawford had been arrested Dec. 14 after causing a disturbance at a gas station by shining a flashlight at a car, "talking about terrorists and Muslims," and telling a witness he would "come back and kill you if you call the cops," according to the document.

Crawford was arrested again Dec. 16, this time in Corvallis, for waving a knife around in his front yard, authorities said. He was taken to a local hospital for a mental evaluation, where he told a detective, "If you believe in jihad, you're working for the wrong God. You're a jihadist." Crawford also said, "Muslims are cool. Jihadists are not."

Law enforcement officers began looking at Crawford as a possible suspect in the firebombing early in the investigation.

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Federal and local officials questioned people living in the neighborhood, including Crawford, who was living with his mother and sister. When officers showed Crawford a blue Maglite flashlight they had found outside the mosque, Crawford told them it looked like his.

In a search of his house, police and the FBI took DNA samples and seized computers, digital camera equipment, a gas can and other evidence.

According to the court document, lab tests showed Crawford is a "potential major contributor" of DNA on the flashlight found near the mosque.

As they analyzed Crawford's computer, investigators found that in a Facebook update on the day after the FBI sting, Crawford wrote he had seen Mohamud at the Corvallis mosque.

"That guy on the news used to go to the mosque that is right in frnt (sic) of my house," the Facebook post read, according to the court document.

On Nov. 27 and 28 Crawford conducted numerous Internet searches for news articles about the Portland bomb plot, the affidavit states.

A sweet young man
After his house was searched last year, neighbors described Crawford as a sweet young man who loved going to the local community college and was a good dad to his 4-year-old boy.

But Crawford has had frequent run-ins with police. In years past he has been accused of assault, breaking a window when he was in jail, throwing a cup of urine at a deputy, dealing drugs, burglary, criminal trespassing and other crimes.

Even Crawford's relatives have expressed worry about his behavior. After he was thrown into a county jail in 2009, his sister told a sheriff's deputy he was "delusional," that he "had not been himself lately" and that he said he worked with the CIA, according to a sheriff's office report.

His mother said last year that Crawford has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism. She declined to comment when reached on her cell phone Thursday.

In an interview with The Associated Press last December, Crawford said he is "100 percent innocent" of the mosque firebombing, that he's a peaceful person and that he does not dislike Muslims.

"They're all just normal people. We are all people," Crawford said at the time.

If convicted on both counts, Crawford faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, and a maximum of 30 years.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Arson at bomb plot suspect's Mosque

  1. Closed captioning of: Arson at bomb plot suspect's Mosque

    >>> we're getting a clear picture this morning as well of the support behind that alleged bomb plot in portland , oregon. 19-year-old mohamed osman mohamud is expected to appear in court tomorrow. authorities say he planned to set off explosives in the middle of a crowded christmas tree lighting ceremony. jim forman has been following that at king-tv live in portland . what new details do you have about the suspect and his background?

    >> reporter: mohamud he was definitely not a loaner. he was an outgoing young man. there were problems throughout his course of going to school here in the portland area. one incident, a young man, a classmate claims that mohamud said he hates americans and was taken seriously enough that school counselors were brought in. he also told for a physics project made a presentation on how to build a rocket-propelled grenade and other explosive-type things. this is a young man, a somali-born naturalized american citizen who was sending time in corvallis, oregon. it's about 90 minutes in from here, home to oregon state university , where he was taking classes. he never officially enrolled in a degree program, but we understand his interest was in physics. the people on the campus say that really nothing stood out about the young man. he did attend services at a mosque, a community center in corvallis, but they said that he also was not a standout. in fact, what did stand out was his lack of commitment to the muslim faith.

    >> jim , how has the muslim-american community reacted? how has the somali community reacted to this so far?

    >> reporter: of course, it quickly denounced the bomb plot, the alleged plot, and they called for calm. they came out last night and said that they hope that the community understands that this is not representative of their religion. they did, however, make very clear that they were receiving threats against mosques and other community facilities tied to the muslim community , and that the police were taking those threats very seriously. we're waiting to see how those investigations pan out as well. people here in portland simply showed that this quintessential medium-sized city with a big heart, they call this portland 's living room because much of the city comes through here at some point to celebrate large occasions, that it could be a plot that was foiled here, a plot that was hatched to go off here at the christmas tree lighting.

    >> portland is a very welcoming city. jim forman right in the middle of it for us from our affiliate in king-tv.

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