SEATTLE: Feds Take Over Gay Nightclub Arson Case, Terrorism Charges Possible

The federal government has taken over the case of Musab Masmari, who is accused of setting a fire in a Seattle gay nightclub as more than 700 patrons celebrated on New Year’s Eve. The change in jurisdiction means that terrorism or hate crime charges are more likely.

A friend of Musab Musmari’s contacted the FBI in early January to say that he was concerned that Musmari “may be planning some terrorist activity,” according to search-warrant documents filed earlier in King County Superior Court. The friend, who was not identified by authorities, worked as a confidential informant for the FBI and Seattle police after the fire, the documents say. The friend also told investigators that Musmari, on a number of occasions, expressed his “distaste for homosexual people” and thought they “should be exterminated,” the documents said. Police say that Musmari avoided a security check at Neighbours by entering an adjacent bar called Therapy Lounge. He then passed through an interior door between the bars into the two-floor dance club and was seen on surveillance footage walking around with an object that appeared large enough to contain a one-gallon gas can, according to the state charging documents.

Masmari is a California-born US citizen and was raised in Libya. He was apprehended in February as he attempted to flee to Turkey on a one-way ticket. (Tipped by JMG reader Todd)