Authorities investigating connections between burglaries of Alabama, Tennessee mosques

(WIAT) — Law enforcement officials are investigating a spate of burglaries at Muslim places of worship around the state.

On Friday night, someone broke into both the Anniston Islamic Center and the Gadsden Islamic Society, getting away with cash from the donation box. Police released surveillance photos from the Anniston security cameras, showing a man believed to be a suspect in the case.

On Tuesday, another burglary happened, this time at the Islamic Society of Tuscaloosa. The person got inside using a key pad, according to police, and stole a safe that also contained a valuable copy of the Quran. Officials with the mosque say it is of sentimental value to the congregants.

This follows a string of similar burglaries in other states, and law enforcement, including the FBI, believe they could be related.

“The thought of somebody burglarizing a mosque and a house of worship is incredible. You don’t think about these sort of things, what would be the inclination?” said Khaula Hadeed, Executive Director of the Alabama chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

She says she’s asking people to be vigilant at their places of worship, to look out for any suspicious behavior. She also hopes anyone who recognizes the person in the surveillance photos will come forward to police.

“If they see something, they need to report it, because this is something that is not only going to help our community, this is something that needs to be, you know, confronted. This person needs to be caught,” Hadeed said.

You can reach the Gadsden Police Department at (256) 549-4578.

You can reach the Anniston Police Department at (256) 238-1800.

You can reach the Tuscaloosa Police Department at (205) 349-2121.

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