Deputies looking for arsonist who set fire at a Hillsborough County mosque in February

Posted at 4:05 PM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 08:51:11-04

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies are looking for a man who set fire to a local mosque.

Action News covered the fire when It happened on Feb. 24 at around 2:00 a.m. at the Islamic Society of New Tampa at 15830 Morris Bridge Rd. However, the surveillance video was just released.

The man was carrying a large container and rope. He was seen on surveillance video trying to ignite a rope sprayed with an ignitable liquid accelerant. The rope didn't stay burning, so he poured a trail of what appears to be ignitable liquid accelerant on the sidewalk, where it ignited.

It did not however light the large container. He then runs away after igniting the large container which caused damage to the mosque.

He left on foot toward Morris Bridge Road. Lab results confirmed gasoline was present at the scene.

Abeed Bulkhi prays the New Tampa mosque weekly and was rattled watching the crime unfold on camera. 

"Somebody who has intent to harm the place that you do your prayer at, it's disturbing," said Bulkhi. 

Aida Mackic, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Florida tells ABC Action News, she was praying at the mosque the night before the fire. She's hopeful the newly-released surveillance video will help investigators track down the person responsible. 

"Children come here, families come here," said Mackic. "To think that if this was a few hours earlier, you know, God forbid, having any of the congregants here having to witness that or be inside the mosque when this occurred is absolutely terrifying." 

Anyone with information about the suspect or his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers for a cash reward. That number is 1-800-873-TIPS (8477).