Former student turns arsonist over US policy in ‘Muslim land’

A former St. Catherine University student is accused of attempting to burn down the school in retaliation for U.S. policy in the Middle East.

According to The Star Tribune, 19 year-old Tnuza Hassan allegedly set eight fires in seven buildings on campus last week, later telling authorities that her intention was to “burn [the school] to the ground” and to “hurt people.”

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“You guys are lucky that I don’t know how to build a bomb because I would have done that,” Hassan reportedly told investigators following her arrest. She also maintained that similar attacks occur on “Muslim land” and that people ignore violence against Muslims.

According to court documents obtained by the publication, Hassan “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.”

The document goes on to specify that the former student “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.”

Hassan also allegedly told authorities that her efforts were not as effective as she hoped, and that “the most successful fire she set was at Saint Mary’s [residence hall] where she set a couch on fire.”

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On Friday, the university issued a statement condemning Hassan’s rhetoric, noting that her remarks “have impacted us all deeply.”

“We are shocked and saddened by the reported statements made by a former student, Tnuza Hassan, regarding her motives for starting fires on campus earlier this week,” the school wrote. “We are dismayed by her statements and know that they have impacted us all deeply.”

The president of the university, ReBecca Koenig Roloff, also thanked law enforcement and public safety officials for quickly responding to the reported fires.  

“In addition to my sadness, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude knowing that all of our students, faculty, staff, and other community members are safe,” she said. “I am eternally grateful to those who reported the fires immediately, to our University Public Safety, and to local law enforcement who acted quickly and effectively to respond to this situation and keep us safe.”

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Officials told the Star Tribune that the fires did minimal damage to school property and that no injuries were reported. The fires mostly consisted of small burning objects such as books and toilet paper, but also included a burning chair that was quickly extinguished by the school’s sprinkler system.

Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Margaret Galvin told the publication that Hassan is being investigated for possible international connections, and that 10 to 15 students had to be evacuated as a result of the fires.

The document also reportedly mentions that the suspect’s roommates gave campus security a letter they received from Hassan after learning that it contained “radical ideas about supporting Muslims and bringing back the caliphate.”

St. Catherine University did not immediately respond to Campus Reform’s request to clarify when school officials received the letter that was allegedly turned over by Hassan’s roommates.

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