Federal authorities have charged a man with threatening to burn Boston's largest mosque and making menacing statements to Muslims in the area.
Patrick Keogan, 44, of Wilmington, allegedly made threats on the Facebook page of Roxbury's Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center last November, according to the office of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.
The post included "an image depicting a mosque in flames with lettering superimposed that stated 'Burn your local mosque,' along with the statement 'Hello scumbags,' next to a smiley face emoji," prosecutors said.
Keogan allegedly posted the same image on the Facebook page of the Islamic Society of Northeastern University.
He is expected to appear in US District Court Tuesday on allegations of making a threat over Facebook to injure or intimidate another individual or to unlawfully damage or destroy a building by means of fire.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the government's case, it is "not uncommon for the ISBCC to receive hateful and anti-Muslim messages." But Keogan's alleged posting raised particular alarm because it came just days after the the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.
Keogan, who was convicted in 2006 for assault and battery with a deadly weapon, is also accused of being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition.
"Keogan's Facebook account also showed that, despite his statutory prohibition as a convicted felon from possessing firearms and ammunition, Keogan continued to buy, sell, trade, build, modify, possess and shoot firearms and ammunition," Ortiz's office said in a news release.
According to the affidavit, he had posted photos of himself holding an AR-10, which is an assault rifle capable of firing larger ammunition than the AR-15 model.
He also allegedly posted pictures of other firearms, including one of himself holding an AK-47-style assault rifle. Ortiz's office also said investigators tracked him while he bought ammunition in New Hampshire and drove it home to Wilmington.
An attorney for Keogan could not immediately be reached for comment.
Ortiz's office said Keogan's online activity showed several posts expressing support for attacks on mosques. After an Islamic center in Missouri was reportedly set aflame in 2013 by a burning object thrown on its roof, Keogan allegedly described the cuprit as "an unknown hero."
He said the person who carried out that act was "the people's champion. A true God amongst mortal men. May your days be many & troubles be few my good man," Ortiz's office said.
Also in November, Keogan allegedly posted a reference to something he called the "Mosque Burning Winter Olympics of 2016."
After the vandalism of a Burlington mosque last year, Keogan also allegedly wrote that he had wanted to disrupt a gathering held in solidarity with the Islamic community there, according to an affidavit filed in support of the government's case.
"I worked but of course nobody would go raise Hell with me," he wrote, according to the affidavit. "A nation of spineless [expletive."
The affidavit said he had previously been interviewed by the FBI, in 2013.
At that time, he allegedly "stated that he is often vocal about his political beliefs, especially when drinking," according to the FBI. "Keogan stated that sometimes he "drinks too much."
Speaking to the FBI in the wake of the alleged Boston messages, authorities said, he denied that he would have carried out the threats.
"Keogan said that he was sorry and that he needs to smarten up as he is too old to act this way," the affidavit said. "Keogan also said that he does not intend to harm Muslims or commit any damage to mosques."