Facebook threats against Boston mosque lead to federal charges

Muslim men before prayers in the mosque at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.
Muslim men before prayers in the mosque at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. –AP

An Iowa man faces charges after writing two Facebook posts threatening violence against Boston’s Muslim community, according to a complaint unsealed Wednesday.

Gerald W. Ledford, originally of central Massachusetts, is charged with making threats against the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury.

Ledford, according to the complaint, went to the ISBCC’s Facebook page on October and wrote two separate posts on their wall. In one, riddled with grammatical errors, he wrote “we will destroy you here and in you’re shit hole countrys.’’

The other included a photo of a man with a long gun, directed toward the followers of the prophet Muhammad.

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At first, the employee who spotted the posts thought they were just another two angry messages.

“The ISBCC gets hate messages all the time,’’ the agent wrote. “Although the first ISBCC employee felt that these were just another two offensive postings, the second ISBCC employee’s initial response was fearful because the image posted was that of a man with a gun and hinted at violence.’’

Ledford deactivated his Facebook account on Nov. 14, the agent wrote, though he kept another account open where he also made derogatory comments about Muslims.

FBI agents connected the two profiles in part by postings of a black dog named Monkey and a cover photo of an eagle’s head with the words “Conservative Patriot’’ as the cover photo. The IP addresses were also the same.

Federal investigators hadn’t yet confronted Ledford, but they said he was trying to deflect any charges by deleting and hiding updates and also writing posts like this:

According to the complaint, Ledford has a previous charge from 2013 of intimidation with a dangerous weapon in Iowa, for which he was given a two year suspended sentence. According to reports from the time, the victim told police that Ledford fired a gun and threatened to kill her, light the house on fire and kill himself.

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Ledford was charged by federal authorities on June 1. No hearing date has yet been set.

It apparently wasn’t just Muslims Ledford targeted, according to the complaint. He was interested in vengeance on anyone who he felt wronged him.

Read a copy of the complaint here:

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