Fire at Tampa mosque ruled arson, test shows gasoline used

Samples from fire lab showed gasoline used in fire
Posted at 11:17 PM, Aug 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 23:22:50-04

"I was really disappointed, I felt really sad, all of the people felt really sad because this was a place of prayer," said Ehab Ali.

For Ali, the fire at the Tampa mosque on Busch Blvd has left more questions than answers. Originally suspected to be an electrical fire, on Friday, sample results pulled from carpeting point at something much more sinister.

"Nobody imagined that somebody would come and set a fire," said Ali.

But according to investigators, someone poured gasoline inside the mosque before setting it ablaze. Nearly $15,000 in Turkish rugs were destroyed. Ali estimates it will take more than $50,000 to rebuild. He says many, including himself, are now living in fear.

"To be frank with you, last Friday, I didn't come," said Ali.

He says it's the first time in 55 years he's missed a Friday prayer service. Others in the Muslim community, like Sahaid Shaikh, have already reached out to offer support. 

"They're not just houses of worship, but they're places where people find moral support within each other," said Shaikh.

Ali says while it's tragic that one individual chose hate over love, he's thankful no one was hurt.

"This building can be compensated, but human life or injuries cannot be compensated," said Ali.

CrimeStoppers is offering a reward up to $3,000 for any information leading to an arrest.