A 19-year-old former student is being accused of lighting eight fires around a Catholic university’s campus in Minnesota.
Prosecutors say Tnuza J. Hassan, of Minneapolis, set the fires on the campus of St. Catherine’s University in retaliation against U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Star Tribune reported.
Hassan, who used to attend the school, has been charged with one count of felony first-degree arson. She allegedly told police “she wanted the school to burn to the ground and that her intent was to hurt people,” according to a complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court.
Hassan reportedly claimed that similar incidents happened on “Muslim land,” but in those cases, no one cared if any Muslims were hurt.
“You guys are lucky that I don’t know how to build a bomb because I would have done that,” she told police and fire investigators.
An earlier report from the Tribune indicated that no one was injured during the incidents, which started late Wednesday morning.
Objects such as books, toilet paper and sanitary napkins were among the items to be set on fire across St. Catherine’s campus.
Trash cans were used to start all but one of the eight fires, officials said.
The fires didn’t cause any major damage, with a chair being the largest item that was burned.
A sprinkler system in the residence hall was responsible for putting out that blaze.
Meanwhile, firefighters put out other fires by either stomping on them or using fire extinguishers.
“All of the fires were quite small and contained quite easily,” said university spokeswoman Sara Berhow.
Hassan was caught after authorities found surveillance footage of her going into a building before one of the fires broke out. She was later arrested at a residence hall.
Moreover, she reportedly told police she had written a letter to her roommate that included “radical ideas about supporting Muslims and bringing back the caliphate,” according to the complaint. Her roommates were scared by the letter, and gave it to campus security.
Hassan appeared in court on Friday. She had to surrender her passport, and bond was set at $100,000.
The former student arrived dressed in an orange jumpsuit, and what the Tribune described as a “makeshift hijab,” as she used some sort of black face covering and a white sheet wrapped around her head, leaving only her eyes exposed.
Patrick Nwaneri, an attorney representing Hassan, asked for $5,000 bail. His request was rejected by Ramsey County District Judge Sophia Vuelo, who said the accused was a threat to public safety.
Hassan is due back in court on Feb. 28 for an omnibus hearing.
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