Texas Muslim Pleads Guilty to Setting Fire to His Own Mosque

Mosque Arson
Photo: Elizabeth Holt

HOUSTON, Texas — The Muslim charged with arson of his own mosque on Christmas Day 2015 has pleaded guilty to felony arson in a Harris County (Houston) district court and was sentenced to prison.

The charging instrument stated that Gary Nathaniel Moore started a fire with the intent to destroy and damage a place of worship – the Savoy Masjid Mosque in Houston. Moore said he attended the mosque every day up to five times a day for five years. The Houston Fire Department (HFD) responded to the fire about 2:47 p.m. on Christmas Day.

Breitbart News reported that “up in smoke is the DC Media’s hoped-for anti-GOP Narrative. Before any facts were known, numerous DC Media outlets immediately exploited the tragedy to place the blame on Donald Trump.” As reported by Breitbart Texas, Breitbart News accurately predicted that the DC media would lose interest in the story “Now that a devout Muslim has been charged.”

Moore had an examining trial to determine if there was enough evidence to hold him in jail or on bond. On December 31, 2015, a Harris County criminal court judge heard evidence presented by prosecutors and found probable cause to hold Moore, as reported by Breitbart Texas. The evidence against Moore as reported was compelling.

An HFD investigator determined that the fire had five separate and distinct points of origin. A container of charcoal lighter was recovered at or near one of the points of origin.

A HFD fire investigator interviewed the Imam who said the mosque was kept unlocked from 7 am – 7 pm every day. The Imam said he did not know how the fire started, and said there should not have been any ignitable liquids inside the mosque.

Moore told a Houston fire investigator on the day of the fire that “he learned of the fire at the mosque from another member of the mosque who called him at home and brought him back to the mosque.”

Surveillance video from a business close-by showed “a bald headed dark skinned male walk quickly away from the mosque at 2:39 pm.” He was wearing long dark shorts, a white t-shirt, and had a backpack. The video also showed that three minutes later at 2:42 p.m., smoke could be seen coming from the camera’s viewing angle. Video footage also shows the same person walking towards the mosque at 12:54 p.m.

The fire investigator who interviewed Moore looked at surveillance video from another location and positively identified the man leaving the mosque as the same person he spoke to at the scene of the fire on December 25. On December 28, another investigator showed Saleem Memon, a member of the mosque for eleven years, a surveillance photo of the man leaving the mosque. He positively identified the man as Gary Nathaniel Moore.

On December 29, a search warrant was executed for Moore’s residence, and officials found a backpack and clothing that appeared to be the same as Moore had on when at the mosque.

A container of charcoal lighter was also found at Moore’s residence that was like the charcoal lighter recovered from Moore’s residence.

According to court documents obtained by Breitbart Texas, Judge Jan Krocker of the 184th District Court in Harris County, Texas sentenced Gary Nathaniel Moore to four years in prison with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The criminal court judge ordered that his sentence start on the day he pleaded guilty – December 9, 2016.

Moore was facing up to 99 years in prison or life. Arson is normally a second degree felony punishable by two to twenty years in prison. When it is elevated to a first degree felony as it has been in this case, it is punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison if a person sets fire to a place of worship.

The 38-year-old defendant is presently at the Harris County jail in Houston. He was booked in the jail in Houston on December 30, 2015 and has been there on a $100,000 bond.

A search of records in Harris County, Texas, showed no other criminal history.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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