An American man who threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of a Somali restaurant in North Dakota was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Tuesday over what federal prosecutors said was an act of “hate violence.”
“Matthew Gust, a 26-year-old of Grand Forks, North Dakota, pleaded guilty to arson and hate-crime charges on May 19”, Vanita Gupta, head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.
“Gust in a plea agreement admitted that he threw a lighted beer bottle filled with gasoline into the Juba Café in Grand Forks in the early morning hours of Dec. 8 to intimidate and interfere with the Somali employees and patrons”, Gupta said, calling Gust a perpetrator of “hate violence.”
An attorney for Gust did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The North Dakota incident came a little more a month after Islamic State’s Nov. 13 gun and bomb attacks on entertainment sites around Paris, France, that left dozens dead.
“In the North Dakota incident, the early-morning explosion and fire caused more than $250,000 in damage”, federal prosecutors said.
“It took local fire-fighters roughly 20 minutes to put out the blaze”, authorities said at the time.
“Gust had earlier been indicted by a grand jury for using a destructive device in the commission of a crime, though that charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement”, federal prosecutors said.