KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — The Ada Township woman charged with making a false threat of terrorism against a Kentwood mosque says she’s innocent.
Kari Moss wore a headscarf as she declared her innocence during her arraignment in a Kentwood court Wednesday. Moss, 33, was arrested Monday, after allegedly claiming she was armed with a weapon while demanding money from visitors of the At-Tawheed Islamic Center on East Paris Avenue.
“She indicated if she doesn’t get it, she’s going to kill somebody or explode somebody or something,” said Islamic center chairman Ali Matwalli.
Matwalli said the center also received a threatening email under a different name Moss sometimes uses.
Moss’ mother said her daughter is mentally ill. She said she tried to get her daughter help weeks before the incident, but the mental health system failed her.
“I think the world can see that she is not a normal person. She is severely mentally ill and she needs to be in the hospital,” Moss’ mother, Charlotte Steigenga said.
Moss has been living with her mom since she was diagnosed as bipolar and schizoaffective seven years ago.
Her mother told 24 Hour News 8 that she believes her daughter demanded the cash because she wanted funds to leave town. She says her daughter was raised a Christian, but was drawn to Islam a few years.
“She is not a devout Muslim. She has not read her Quran in months,” Steigenga said.
In court Wednesday, Moss said she was waiving her right to a lawyer and would represent herself. Moss told the court she relies on religion more than a lawyer.
Moss also spoke out about her treatment in jail.
“I’m in solitary confinement in jail. It is inhumane… a lot of religious discrimination,” she said. “The prison guards were trying to make me eat pork for every meal. Every time they serve me pork, I say, ‘this is a religious hate crime.”
She went on to say that she wanted to press charges against jail officials.
“I would like to press charges and I would like all to lose their guns and badges for a hate crime and mild torture against a woman in a burqa,” Moss said in court Wednesday.
A representative from the mosque asked the judge to set a high bond for Moss because he was worried about future harm. The judge set Moss’ bond at $500,000.
“I’m a Shia and he’s a Sunni. They want to kill us that is why he’s saying that,” Moss said when the representative from the mosque spoke in court.
Moss remains in the Kent County Jail awaiting her preliminary hearing. If convicted on the felony charge, Moss faces up to 20 years in prison.
Her family doesn’t plan to bond her out from jail. Moss will be back in court on Jan. 12.