With a copy of the Quran and a Palestinian flag in his trunk, a Jordanian-turned-U.S. citizen crashed his car into a Home Depot in Arizona where he formerly worked, igniting an explosive blaze in the stores’ paint section and causing $1 million in damage.
The Dec. 18 attack in Chandler, Ariz., by 24-year-old Ali R. Warrayat was a carefully planned “personal statement,” the East Valley Tribune of Mesa, Ariz., reported.
Warrayat, a student at Arizona State University in Mesa, had his car radio blasting with Arabic music to drown out the yells of employee he might encounter, the paper said.
After crashing through the doors at 6 a.m., Warrayat headed for the paint department and slammed the vehicle into the flammable goods. He jumped out of the car, ignited the blaze with a lighter then headed for the exit, sweeping merchandise from the shelves as he went. He then sat on the curb outside, waiting for police to arrest him.
When police arrived, however, he struggled with officers and refused to cooperate when asked if he understood his Miranda rights.
Warrayat replied in a foreign language and when asked if he understood English, said, “Do you speak Arabic?”
He is being held in a county jail in Phoenix without bond on suspicion of aggravated assault and arson.
A Home Depot official told police the company will consider placing armed guards at all of its stores in the area if Warrayat is released from jail.
Warrayat worked as a paint stocker in the Chandler store six months ago but was transferred to another Home Depot location after difficulties with a supervisor. He told police he was angry at the store management about not getting a proper raise.
He also said he was mad at the United States for proposing a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border and wanted to make the country “more free.”
A day after the incident, Warrayat asked reporters to come to the jail to hear him make a statement, but when they arrived, he refused to speak, gazing at the ceiling and the floor with his lips pursed, the Tribune said.
Friends described Warrayat as deeply religious, with a Quran hanging from his rearview mirror; and in police statements, the 24-year-old referred to his religion often, the paper reported.
A co-worker and friend said Warrayat was “gentleman-like and respectable with everyone.”
“When I saw him on TV, he did not look like the Ali that I know,” Joaquin Bustamante told the Tribune. “He was a hard worker and worked circles around everybody, and he was a very private person.”
Warrayat told police he had a swastika tattooed in red and black on the bottom of his foot after the Nazi symbol was painted on a mosque where he prays. Islam considers stepping on things disrespectful, he explained.
Police seized a computer at the house he shares with his parents, finding images of men lighting Molotov cocktails and a cartoon of two bloodied and dead children with a Middle Eastern flag in the background.