The leader of the militia group convicted in the 2017 bombing of a Minnesota mosque wants to be recognized as a transgender woman and receive a lower sentence because of it, according to court documents.
Shannon Elkins, the public defender for Emily Claire Hari, 50, a biological male who identifies as a woman, is asking for a federal judge to grant Hari the minimum sentence because gender dysphoria and online anti-Muslim content allegedly fueled an "inner conflict" in Hari leading up to the attack.
"She strongly desired making a full transition but knew she would be ostracized from everyone and everything she knew," Elkins said.
Prosecutors said Hari, formerly known as Michael Hari, and two men used a sledgehammer to break the mosque's window of the imam's office and threw a 20-pound black powder pipe bomb, as well as a plastic container of diesel fuel and gasoline, inside the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center.
The defense attorney filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank to give her client no more than 30 years in prison, the mandatory minimum amount for Hari's conviction, instead of the life sentence sought by prosecutors.
Her attorney said Hari was already living a "double life" sentence.
"Thus, as she formed a ragtag group of freedom fighters or militia men and spoke of missions to Cuba and Venezuela, Ms. Hari secretly looked up 'sex change,' 'transgender surgery' and 'post-op transgender' on the internet," Elkins said. "As she purchased military fatigues for their 'missions,' she also purchased dresses and female clothing for a planned trip to Bangkok, Thailand, for male-to-female surgery. She was living a double life."
It was the stress of this double life, the public defender argued, that drove Hari to attack the Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Aug. 5, 2017, and that her client holds no ill will toward the Islamic faith.
Elkins described Hari as a misunderstood "pacifist" who has lived peacefully in Anabaptist communities throughout the world with other cultures.
"She is not a 'White Nationalist,' a 'Neo Nazi,' a 'Skinhead,' a 'Boogaloo Boi,' nor part of the 'Arian [sic] Brotherhood,'" Elkins said.
Sentencing is set for Sept. 13, and Hari is seeking an amended prison assignment given her gender identity. She denies any involvement in the attack.
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Original Author: Luke Gentile