Former student sets fire at Catholic university over U.S. military intervention in ‘Muslim land’

Former student sets fire at Catholic university over U.S. military intervention in ‘Muslim land’
Tnuza Hassan, 19, a former student at St. Catherine University, allegedly set several fires on the St. Paul campus in retaliation for U.S. military intervention overseas. She appeared in court on Friday. Her bail was set at $100,000. (Image source: Ramsey County Sheriff's Office)

A former student allegedly told police she set several fires at St. Catherine University in retaliation for U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Star-Tribune reported.

What happened?

Tnuza J. Hassan, 19, of Minneapolis, allegedly said she “wanted the school to burn to the ground and that her intent was to hurt people,” according to the report.

According to a complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court, Hassan was charged with one count of felony first-degree arson.

Hassan allegedly told police that similar attacks occurred on “Muslim land,” and no one was upset that Muslims were hurt. She also allegedly told police and fire investigators: “You guys are lucky that I don’t know how to build a bomb because I would have done that.”

St. Catherine University is a private Catholic liberal arts university with campuses in St. Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota.

Court documents allege the following:

“She said she had been a student at Saint Catherine’s but quit last fall because she and her family were planning to vacation in Ethiopia,” according to the Star-Tribune. “Hassan said she started the fires because she’s been reading about the U.S. military destroying schools in Iraq and Afghanistan and she felt that she should do exactly the same thing.

“She said that her fire-starting was not as successful as she had wanted. She said the most successful fire she set was at Saint Mary’s [residence hall] where she set a couch on fire,” it added.

How many fires were set?

Fire and school officials told the Star-Tribune that eight fires were set in seven buildings Wednesday. Most of the fires were set in garbage cans and caused little damage. Hassan was arrested on the St. Paul campus after allegedly setting the fires.

The largest object set on fire was a chair in St. Mary’s, which was extinguished by a sprinkler system, Sara Berhow, a university spokeswoman, and St. Paul Assistant Fire Chief Mike Gaede told the Star-Tribune. Other objects include books, toilet paper and sanitary napkins.

According to the report, 33 children and eight adults were at a day care at St. Mary’s when that fire was set. About 10 to 15 students were also evacuated from the building, according to the Star-Tribune.

No injuries were reported.

Was she released on bail?

Hassan appeared in court Friday and faces felony arson charges. She was ordered to stay away from the campus and surrender her passport, according to the Star-Tribune. Bail was set at $100,000.

At her court appearance, Hassan wore an orange jumpsuit, a black face covering only her eyes and a large sheet draped over her head, according to the report.

Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Margaret Galvin said law enforcement is investigation possible international ties to Hassan.

Hassan’s attorney, Patrick Nwaneri, asked for $5,000 bail, saying his client has no criminal record. But Ramsey County District Judge Sophia Vuelo rejected the request and said Hassan is a threat to public safety. Another court hearing is set for Feb. 28.

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