Now Reading
Libyan arrested over NYE Seattle gay bar arson attack pleads guilty

Libyan arrested over NYE Seattle gay bar arson attack pleads guilty

30-year-old Musab Mohammed Masmari has pleaded guilty over a New Year’s Eve arson attack on a Seattle gay bar that put the lives of 750 people at risk.

Prosecutors say Masmari entered Neighbours bar from a neighboring venue with looser security and used a one gallon can of gasoline to douse a stairway, leaving the can at the top of the stairs before lighting it.

Prosecutors say Masmari immediately fled the venue but he was later identified from the club’s security cameras.

The fire was quickly put out by staff and some military personnel who had been drinking in the bar and no one was hurt.

Masmari was later captured trying to flee the US on a one-way ticket to Turkey after three people contacted authorities to say they believed he was the man in images circulated to the media by the police.

Masmari has signed a plea deal with prosecutors that will see them recommend he is jailed for five years – though he could potentially be jailed for twenty.

‘This defendant violated people’s right to gather safely: he put more than 700 lives at risk when he purposely started a fire at a crowded nightclub on New Year’s Eve,’ US Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a statement.

‘Thankfully, the staff and patrons at Neighbours moved quickly to evacuate the club and extinguish the flames. Federal prosecution ensures a five year mandatory minimum sentence – one that is more than double the potential sentence faced in state court.’

‘The collaboration in this case between the US Attorney’s Office, the King County Prosecutor’s Office and state and federal law enforcement authorities has resulted in swift and serious consequences for the defendant,’ King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said.

‘Although the fire was quickly put out, Mr. Masmari’s actions put hundreds of people at risk. The sentence he faces in federal court reflects the inherent danger of his actions.’

Prosecutors say a friend of Masmari’s contacted the FBI in January to warn them he could be planning terrorist activity and that he had expressed his contempt for homosexuals and thought they should be ‘exterminated.’

Masmari was born in California but his parents returned to Libya when he was still a small child. He only returned to the US in 2009.