Crime & Courts

West Wichita mosque vandalized with graffiti

Graffiti on the side of the Islamic Association of Mid-Kansas at 3406 W. Taft. (April 11, 2016)
Graffiti on the side of the Islamic Association of Mid-Kansas at 3406 W. Taft. (April 11, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

A west Wichita mosque that was the site of a $150,000 arson in 2011 has been vandalized with graffiti spray-painted onto the side of the building and a fence.

Police Sgt. Steve Yarberry on Monday gave this account: Someone with the mosque, at 3406 W. Taft and owned by the Islamic Association of Mid Kansas, reported that between 2 p.m. Friday and 10:15 a.m. Saturday, unknown suspects spray-painted graffiti on the south side of the building and on a board fence. The damage was estimated at $500.

The spray-painted symbols include stars and pitchforks, Yarberry said. It’s unclear at this point what the symbols mean, he said. For now, he is referring to the vandalism as “tagging.”

The symbols, spray-painted black on white siding along a bed of iris and roses, are several feet tall and visible to nearby traffic and several neighboring houses. The mosque is on Taft east of West Street and north of Kellogg.

Abe Jibril, president of the Islamic Association of Mid Kansas, said Monday evening that an officer told him Saturday that the graffiti looked like the work of a gang.

As for why someone sprayed graffiti onto the mosque, he said, “I have no idea what they meant, or if they are just kids passing by, and they vandalized the place.”

The vandalism occurred some time after the Friday prayer.

“Of course, you get upset,” Jibril said, “whether it’s gangs or kids playing around. It doesn’t look nice. We try to keep the place looking in good shape after it burned down.”

On Halloween in 2011, someone intentionally set a fire at the mosque, authorities said. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the arson, which caused an estimated $150,000 damage, fire officials said.

Jibril said Monday that the FBI sent him a note several months ago saying only that the arson case was closed.

Tim Potter: 316-268-6684, @terporter