2:37 pm Jan. 3, 2012
City officials met with Muslim leaders at the Islamic Center that was one of four Queens locations hit with firebombs on New Year's Day.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg later told reporters, "We do have a person that we are talking to right now that fits the description of the suspect."
Bloomberg said police were led to this person after surveillance footage from near the location of the incident captured the image of a suspicious motor vehicle.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, speaking at the Al-Khoei Islamic Center, said the person in police custody "may be the person in the video." Kelly said the four New Year's Eve attacks in Queens—and possibly a fifth, on Long Island—are believed to be connected.
A number of city officials visited the center this morning, including Bloomberg, Kelly, Rep. Greg Meeks, State Senator Malcolm Smith and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who arrived with a shawl partly covering her hair.
(Bloomberg and Kelly entered from a door with a sign that said: "THIS ENTRANCE IS STRICTLY FOR LADIES.")
While Bloomberg, Kelly, Quinn and others held a a brief, closed-door meeting with the leaders of the Islamic center, I asked a few people at the center what they thought of the mayor and Kelly's attendance there. Some imams and a professor recently expressed their outrage over police-surveillance tactics allegedly focusing on Muslim residents.
"They should be here, they should have been here sooner," said Arzoo Zaidi, 50, a banker who lives on Long Island and attends the mosque "all the time."
When I asked her about the NYPD's reported surveillance of Muslims here, Zaida said, "If they do it to every community, that's OK. But if they choose Muslims, then we condemn that. That is bias."
Another woman, Rashadi Qizibash, said of Bloomberg, "I'm very happy he's here," but lamented, "Just when you think things are getting better and people are getting more educated, this happens."
When I asked her about the reported NYPD surveillance program, Qizibash said, "Isn't that their job, to put all communities under surveillance?"
Bloomberg spoke briefly to reporters at the center before leaving with Quinn for another event: a press conference about the 500th restaurant to open under the city's new streamlined inspection process.