August 20th, 2010
03:55 PM ET
CNN's Wayne Drash filed this report:
Shauib Karim calls me back into the office at the Islamic Center of Jacksonville, Florida. "You've got to see this."
He boots up a computer and opens a file from May 10. On the screen, there's an image of a hunched-over, middle-aged guy carrying a 3-foot pipe bomb and a gas canister.
The man placed the device at the foot of the mosque's minaret. At 9:35 p.m., the firebomb went off, sending shrapnel 100 feet into the air. Video from the minaret shows a bright blast and a swirl of dust.
"Just think if children had been there," Karim says.
No one was wounded in the attack, and no suspect has been arrested in the months since.
Karim walks around to the back to give us a first-hand glimpse of the damage. The area is charred and stands as a reminder of that day.
Yet the attack hasn't diminished the spirits here. About 200 people came this night for prayers and iftar, the traditional evening meal to break the Ramadan fast.
"When the bomb attack happened, a lot of people had some fear and anxiety," says Aman Ali, my traveling companion who's going to 30 mosques in 30 states. "But you still saw the place being filled to capacity night after night for prayers. It really makes me value the freedom of religion that we all have in this country."
Back in the office, Karim giggles. "Do you want to go to the top of the minaret?"
It's seven stories tall. The only way to get to the top is by ladder. Soon, Karim - dressed in sandals and a jalabiya, a traditional long-flowing outfit - is charging up a series of ladders. Aman and I follow right behind.
Drenched in sweat from the 150-foot climb, Aman had the theme song of "Rocky" in his head as he stepped out onto the tiny balcony. "Wow, this is awesome!"
Down below, the mosque's gold dome shone in the night.
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