Merv Mitchell, emir of the Al-Masjid Ur-Razzaq Ul-Karim mosque in Philadelphia, was arrested and thrown in jail after he and the mosque's imam reportedly attempted to cut off the hand of a worshiper with a 2-foot machete, The Blaze reported Saturday.
According to reports, a prayer service had just ended when the unnamed victim was approached by Mitchell and the imam -- who was also not identified. The 46-year-old victim was accused of stealing jars of money from the mosque, police Lt. John Walker said.
The man denied stealing the money, but Mitchell and the imam apparently didn't believe him. Walker said the man was dragged to the backyard of the mosque for punishment.
“They threw the victim to the ground and held his right arm against a log,” Walker said. ”One of the offenders grabbed a machete from inside the mosque, and struck the victim near his wrist. The blade cut through some of his tendons.” The machete, however, had a dull blade, preventing it from cutting all the way through the man's wrist.
The man escaped, was treated at Mercy Hospital and later released. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the man will need reconstructive surgery.
Police obtained a search warrant and found the machete allegedly used in the assault. They arrested Mitchell on charges of aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, and related offenses. Authorities intend to get an arrest warrant for the imam.
According to the Inquirer, Mitchell, who has used a number of aliases, has a long criminal history that includes convictions for robbery, theft, burglary and carrying a firearm without a license. Nothinne Mabul Mitchell, the owner of the mosque, owes over $80,000 in back real estate taxes and the building itself was deemed unsafe in May 2013.
"A 'No Trespassing' sign hung next to the front door, warning members of law enforcement that they could face a $10 million fine or 10 years in prison for hindering the rights of non-U.S. citizens," the Inquirer added.
The English-language version of Islamweb explains that according to the Koran, the punishment for theft is amputation. Recently, militant Muslims in Syria cut off the hand of a thief, posting photos on Twitter.