Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 20 December 2012 11:28
TOLEDO — Islamic Center arsonist Randolph Linn will likely spend more than 20 years behind bars following his guilty plea to three federal charges Wednesday afternoon in connection with an arson at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in September.
|File photo. Caution tape is seen surrounding the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo during an arson investigation. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Linn, 52, of St. Joe, Ind., entered his pleas in the court of U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary during a scheduled change of plea hearing.
“You are no better than any terrorist or extremist that you sought to punish,” said Zouhary in his remarks after Linn entered his plea.
Linn, shackled at the wrists and waist and wearing a dark prison jumpsuit, admitted to driving to the Islamic Center, located in Perrysburg Township, on Sept. 30 from his home in St. Joe.
He stated that he had become angry at “newspaper, radio stories I listen to, news,” depicting Islamic extremists killing Americans overseas, and “trying to blow stuff up.”
Linn, who was a truck driver, had at times driven for a Toledo firm and was well-acquainted with the location of the Islamic Center. He saw his act, he said, as “my way, I guess, trying to get payback for people who got killed.”
Answering questions from Zouhary, Linn stated that he had not planned the arson beforehand — “I definitely did not think about it,” he said. “It was just something that I did,” — and that he had consumed more than 45 beers over a six to seven-hour period prior to setting out on the nearly two-hour trek to Perrysburg Township.
U.S. attorneys took issue with those particular statements, stating that Linn had made threats against the Islamic Center to his son two weeks before committing the crime, and asserting that a number of acts he undertook during the commission of the crime were not the acts of an inebriated man.
Linn’s lawyer, Andrew Hart of the U.S. District Public Defender’s Office, said that Linn’s indications he had been drinking were not meant to reduce his culpability in the case.
“On the way back I was thinking ‘What the heck did I just do?’” he said at one point.
Linn admitted that he did not personally know anyone of the Islamic faith.
“The only Muslims I know I’d seen on TV,” he said.
When asked by the judge if he believed all Muslims to be terrorists, he said “I would say they are, most of them.”
While largely calm during the proceedings, answering the judges questions matter-of-factly, Linn at times displayed flashes of whimsy in court, rocking in his chair before the hearing and, when Zouhary asked if he had ever had any aliases, responded he has sometimes been called “Dumb***,” but quickly stated he was being facetious.
As part of a 14-page plea agreement, Linn admitted to using a gas can to burn a prayer rug in a second floor room of the center, and being armed with a firearm during the incident. He had reportedly brought several guns with him in his vehicle.
Linn was indicted on federal hate crimes charges in October for two offenses — including damaging a house of worship and using fire or explosives in the commission of a felony — and a superseding indictment, adding a federal firearms charge, was handed down on Tuesday.
Linn could have faced up to 35 years in prison and fines in excess of $750,000 for the crimes.
Under the plea agreement, he will serve 20 years; restitution, which is yet to be determined, is also to be paid to the Islamic Center, and could amount to more than $1 million.
Zouhary, in his remarks to Linn after entering his plea, stated that the mosque is a symbol of “the best that America offers.”
“Your attack on this holy place of worship is an attack on all churches, synagogues and mosques.”
“You did not attack the terrorists or extremists,” said Zouhary. “Quite the opposite.”
“Ironically, it was your own violence that was sinful and evil.”
Linn is to be sentenced on April 16 at 3 p.m.