Letter says assassins plan to kill Dove World pastor

Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 11:42 p.m.

As investigators from local, state and federal police agencies met Tuesday to plan for what awaits Sept. 11, when the Dove World Outreach Center plans to hold a Quran burning on its lawn, a death threat against the church's pastor made its way to The Sun building.

In a two-sentence, typed statement addressed simply to "The Editor," unknown assassins vowed, in fairly broken English, to kill Terry Jones, Dove World's senior pastor ,who has given interviews to scores of media outlets, including CNN and The New York Times.

The letter, which was postmarked in Johnstown, Pa., a city of about 21,000 between Pittsburgh and Altoona, was handed over to the Gainesville Police Department, which has been sharing information about Dove World with the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"We're obviously taking all threats seriously, and we are doing our best to investigate them all, to try and find the intent behind it and the validity of it," GPD spokeswoman Cpl. Tscharna Senn said.

Senn said police were also investigating a threat Jones got via the Internet but declined to say if police were reviewing any others.

In interviews, Jones has said he has received multiple death threats.

Police are planning for the potential of violence, as posters on jihadist websites have also promised to kill Jones. One wrote he would blow up the church in a suicide bombing.

But Tuesday evening, as residents who live in the neighborhoods around the 50-member church returned home from work, things were calm.

They likely won't be a week from Saturday.

A note from the homeowner's association taped on a mailbox at Mile Run, the neighborhood directly to the west of the church on Northwest 37th Street, informed residents that the road might be closed that day to "outside vehicle traffic" and residents would need to show two forms of ID to get through.

The association has also decided that its recreational facilities - the pool, tennis and racquetball courts and playground - will be closed.

"We have taken action on all recommendations from GPD and it is our hope that this exhibition will remain peaceful," the note stated.

Senn, however, said the Police Department hasn't determined whether that street will be closed and is still forming its tactical and logistical plans.

Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., announced Tuesday that it will be unveiling a public-service announcement campaign to counter Dove World's message and the controversy around the so-called "ground zero mosque," the Islamic center being planned for two blocks away from the World Trade Center site.

"The stepped-up rhetorical and physical attacks on the American Muslim community and Islam require a positive, proactive response that will help counter the almost hysterical campaign of misinformation by a vocal minority of bigots," the organization's national director, Nihad Awad, said in a statement.

Contact Chad Smith at chad.smith@gvillesun.com.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top