Federal authorities are offering a $20,000 reward to anyone with information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or people behind the arson at the future site of a mosque in Rutherford County, they announced in a news conference Friday afternoon.
Standing in front of the excavation equipment damaged in last weekend's fire, authorities from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — along with newly seated Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold — said they're pleased with how the investigation is proceeding, although they declined to say whether they have a suspect.
"Somebody knows something, and money is a motivator," said Assistant Special Agent Keith Moses of the FBI's Nashville office.
The reward money comes from a combination of ATF and FBI funds.
"It's very good news that they have made progress," said Camie Ayash, spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, which has drawn intense criticism from residents who say, generally, that Islam supports terrorism. "Maybe with the reward ... hopefully someone will come forward."
Authorities also confirmed that an accelerant was used in the arson, which occurred early last Saturday morning. One of four large pieces of excavating equipment was burned beyond repair.
Moses said no determination could be made about possible hate crime or civil rights charges until after a suspect is arrested.
Call 1-888-ATF-FIRE with any pertinent information.