Prosecutors: Woman mad at US actions abroad set campus fires
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A woman whom prosecutors said was angry about supposed U.S. military actions abroad was charged Friday with setting several fires at a Minnesota university.
A criminal complaint said Tnuza Jamal Hassan, 19, a former student at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, admitted to investigators that she started the fires on Wednesday, including one in a dormitory that housed a day care center. She’s charged with first-degree arson.
“Hassan stated she started the fires because she’s been reading about the US military destroying schools in Iraq or Afghanistan and she felt that she should do exactly the same thing,” the complaint said. “She said that her fire-starting was not as successful as she wanted.”
Hassan was held Friday night in the Ramsey County Jail on $100,000 bail.
The fires were small and quickly contained. Nobody was injured and damage was limited to furnishings, the school said in a statement. A sprinkler system prevented the dormitory fire from spreading beyond a chair to the day care center, where 33 children and eight adults were present.
“Hassan said she wanted the school to burn to the ground and that her intent was to hurt people,” the complaint said. “Hassan said this was that same thing that happened in ‘Muslim land’ and nobody cares if they get hurt, so why not do this?”
Hassan, of Minneapolis, was an English major who last enrolled in the fall 2017 semester but is not currently enrolled, the school said. The complaint said she withdrew because she and her family were planning to vacation in Ethiopia.
The complaint also said she wrote a letter to her roommates containing “radical ideas about supporting Muslims and bringing back the caliphate.” It said the letter scared the roommates, who turned the letter over to campus security.
“She told the police and fire investigators ‘You guys are lucky that I don’t know how to build a bomb because I would have done that,’” the complaint said.
Court records did not list an attorney for Hassan. Spokesmen for the St. Paul Police Department and Ramsey County Attorney’s Office said they didn’t have any information on her nationality. A St. Catherine’s spokeswoman said the school can’t release information on Hassan’s nationality because of federal privacy laws.
An FBI spokesman said he couldn’t comment on whether or not the bureau is investigating.