TAMPA, Fla. - Employees at the Center for American Islamic relations are scouring surveillance video, trying to figure out who might have dropped off burnt pages of the Quran.
"Allah and his," read Samantha Bowden, CAIR Tampa's Communication Director. "I saw a couple pieces fluttering. Looked closer. All in these grooves, there were just bits and bits," she said.
It's about the only phrase she is able to decipher among the charred pieces of paper. They're so small and dark she almost missed them as she got out of her car Thursday morning in the CAIR parking lot on 50th Street in Tampa.
"It appears to have been burned at some other location and dropped off here," explained Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Spokesman Larry McKinnon.
HCSO isn't calling it a hate crime, which McKinnon says requires a human victim. Because no one knows who owned the Quran, it also doesn't fit a charge of criminal mischief.
"We're going to err on the side of caution and document it and hope that it's nothing," McKinnon said.
Bowden found the burned pages a day after Pastor Terry Jones planned his Quran burning on September 11th, foiled by his arrest for unlawful conveyance of fuel.
"Really people should be reading books, not burning them," said CAIR Florida Director Hassan Shibly.
"They can burn the paper, but they can't burn the Quran, because it's in our hearts."
Shibly calls it the work of a fringe few they plan to ignore.
"A drive-by sprinkling or some coward copycat," Bowden said. "But at the end of the day, you can't let people who are hateful dictate the terms of your life."
This isn't the first time CAIR has faced what employees believe to be a threat of intimidation, after a recent post on CAIR's Facebook page called for someone to burn the CAIR office to the ground.
ABC Action News contacted Jones for comment, and he calls the incident "unrelated" to his planned Quran burning. He was unaware of it until we told him.
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