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Ottawa police investigating after package left outside mosque

Ottawa police say they are looking into why a box of bottled water was left outside a mosque last Friday.
Ottawa police say they are looking into why a box of bottled water was left outside a mosque last Friday. Abdulhakim Moalimishak photo

Ottawa police say investigators are looking into why a box of water bottles was left outside an east-end mosque last Friday.

Police say they were called to the Assalam Mosque at around 8:30 p.m. due to a suspicious package.

The chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE) squad was called in to investigate and through the use of their bomb disposal robot, the package was cleared as safe at around 1 a.m.

Police say there is currently no criminal element but investigators are looking to get to the bottom of why the bottles were left on the bench outside the mosque.

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Ottawa police spokesperson Const. Amy Gagnon says the hate crime unit has also reviewed the incident but hasn’t found evidence that this is a hate crime.

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Gagnon says the police are reviewing security footage and looking to understand why the package was left behind and that this could just be an instance of mistaken intent. Regardless, Gagnon says Ottawa police will continue to make sure everyone in the community is safe.

Abdulhakim Moalimishak, president of the Assalam Mosque, says that according to his security footage, the incident is still pretty suspicious.

For one, the package was dropped off during the mosque’s scheduled time of worship and according to Moalimishak, the same person was seen earlier on their security camera “scouting out the place.”

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“We don’t know why this person did what he did,” said Moalimishak. “We don’t know what’s going on. And our community is really demanding answers.”

Moalimishak says police have been giving him slim details and he has several questions to ask.

“They keep changing the story, all we want to know is: who is this individual, what is in the package and on what basis did they conclude no crime has taken place and everything is safe?” said Moalimishak.

Moalimishak says he is unsure whether the mosque should increase security but he does believe there is hateful intent behind the package.

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Moalimishak says the box looks to be a recreation of the Kaaba, one of the holiest sites in Islam located in Mecca.

Police say there is no danger to public safety.