POWDER SPRINGS, Ga.,None - A 26-year-old man has pleaded guilty to burning down a mosque in Powder Springs, but congregation members are still struggling to rebuild.
“Our heart's at the mosque. We need our mosque,” said Hafiz Inayatullah, the mosque imam, or prayer leader.
The mosque on Powder Springs Road gained national attention when it burned in the summer of 2010. Many were concerned it was a hate crime, but the arsonist turned out to be a member, Tamsir Mendy.
Mendy had only worshipped at the mosque for a few weeks before the fire, and the lack of a trial leaves the congregation with a lot of unanswered questions.
“We don't know about his details. Who is Tamsir? What did he do?” Inayatullah told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt.
During a previous court hearing, the fire marshal testified Mendy had been upset about a split between two congregations.
“He felt like they couldn't worship properly together split and upset with each other and this was his way of burning one mosque to bring the two mosques together,” said Scott Tucker, of the Marietta Fire Department.
Mendy pleaded guilty with no deal. A judge sentenced him to 20 years, with 10 to serve in prison.
But that doesn’t end the trip to recovery for the Powder Springs Road mosque, whose members have been praying in a strip mall since the fire. Inayatullah said it has been a struggle to raise money to rebuild. He hopes workers will be done with construction in the next few months.
“We are trying our best to complete it as soon as possible and let the people come and pray in the mosque because our hearts are connected here,” he said.