DETROIT — A man born in Iraq who says he has a history of psychological problems has admitted to burning Qurans in a Detroit suburb on three separate occasions over the past month.
Ali Hassan Al-Asadi, 51, was arrested on June 25 outside the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Dearborn, Mich., after he burned a Quran while holding a wooden club, Dearborn Police Lt. Douglas Topolski said Monday.
Al-Asadi told police he burned another Quran earlier that day on a city street and three Qurans on June 10 outside the Karbalaa center, Lt. Topolski said.
The June 10 burning sparked concern as it came a few days before Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones of Florida visited Dearborn. During Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's recent visit to Dearborn, he condemned the burnings outside the Karbalaa center, which serves the Iraqi-American Shia community.
Al-Asadi was charged with littering and the release of soot, both misdemeanors. He was released on a $500 bond after pleading guilty and faces a sentencing on Aug. 5 in 19th District Court in Dearborn.
Referring to the police report, Topolski said Al-Asadi claimed "a high-ranking official in the mosque defrauded him out of a large sum of money, and when he asked for it, he was belittled, humiliated, and hit with shoes." The police report doesn't specify which mosque.
Al-Asadi told the Free Press on Monday that he burned a dozen Qurans over the past year at several locations because he has increasingly negative views about Muslims in general and because he had a financial dispute with an Iraqi-American Muslim.
Al-Asadi said he was raised in Iraq as a Shia Muslim, but converted to Christianity and attends local churches. Al-Asadi said he immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s, part of a wave of Iraqi Shias who came to metro Detroit as political refugees escaping the government of Saddam Hussein.
Al-Asadi said he developed "severe psychological trauma anxiety" in Iraq after treating injured Iraqi soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Al-Asadi said he was a doctor in Iraq, but is on disability. Al-Asadi said he was admitted to a psychiatric center last year in Detroit and takes psychiatric medication.
Imam Husham Al-Husainy, head of the Karbalaa center, thanked police for arresting the man who burned Qurans outside his center. Al-Husainy said he doesn't know Al-Asadi.