Citing the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, a federal judge on Thursday postponed the trial of an Illinois militia leader charged with orchestrating the 2017 bombing of a Bloomington mosque.
Michael Hari was scheduled to stand trial on hate crime and explosives charges later this month, making his the first federal trial to take place since the district’s chief judge suspended jury trials in March. But on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank postponed Hari’s trial date to Sept. 21.
Last week, Chief Judge John Tunheim issued an order allowing in-person hearings to resume on a limited basis on July 13. The federal bench in Minnesota also plans to resume criminal jury trials after July 6.
Hari is the sole member of the White Rabbits militia group left to stand trial after the other two Illinois men charged in 2018 — Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris — pleaded guilty. McWhorter and Morris, both also from Hari’s tiny hometown of Clarence, Ill., are expected to testify against their former militia leader.
Hari is facing five counts related to the Aug. 5, 2017, early-morning bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. Two counts are civil rights charges related to targeting a religious property and trying to obstruct the free exercise of religious beliefs. Hari is also charged with conspiring to commit federal crimes using explosives and two counts related to using and possessing an unregistered explosive device.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Docherty, at a pretrial hearing in June, singled out Hari as the leader of the White Rabbits militia group. Hari is also charged in connection with a series of federal crimes in Illinois — including an unsuccessful attempt to bomb a women’s health clinic two months after the Dar Al-Farooq attack.
In June, Docherty described the militia as “anti-Muslim” and “anti-immigrant” and said it possessed a set of beliefs in which Islam, the ad hoc anti-fascist group known as antifa, and the billionaire philanthropist George Soros played sinister roles. McWhorter told FBI agents in 2018 that the three targeted the Minnesota mosque because they wanted to show Muslims that they were not welcome in the U.S.