To fake a hate crime. Hate crimes offer considerable capital for the victims these days. From the Seattle Times:
Mirza Akram, 37, owner of Continental Spices Cash & Carry was arrested at the store yesterday on a federal warrant accusing him of arson. Police also said a second man helped set the July 9 fire that caused an estimated $50,000 damage.
“We suspected him right away,” said Julianne Marshall, spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Marshall declined to go into detail about why Akram was immediately suspected of the arson.
After the fire was doused at the grocery, at 315 E. Casino Road, Everett police and firefighters found a gasoline can and a derogatory message directed toward Arabs spray-painted on a wall. A white cross was spray-painted on a refrigerator in the back of the store, which specializes in Pakistani, Indian and Middle Eastern groceries. Nobody was injured in the fire.
Everett police spokesman Sgt. Boyd Bryant said investigators believe the store owner set the fire because he was experiencing financial difficulty. “That was his motive, to collect from insurance,” Bryant said….
Marshall said Akram will appear before a federal magistrate today to be read his formal charges and to learn his bail amount. She said the minimum mandatory federal sentence for arson is five years in prison.
Rupinder Bedi, who owns a 7-Eleven next to the grocery, said he saw Akram crying after the fire. Bedi said the store owner told him he had been harassed by some customers earlier this summer.
Bedi said Akram told him the verbal slurs didn’t stop until he threatened to call police.
Samia El-Moslimany, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Seattle, said Akram had been in contact with her agency soon after the fire. El-Moslimany asked the FBI to investigate the fire as a possible hate crime.