Capitol Hill Arson suspect arrested before leaving country

SEATTLE (AP) — A King County judge on Monday found probable cause to hold a 30-year-old Bellevue man suspected of starting a fire at a crowded Seattle nightclub on New Year's Eve.

Musab Musmari waived his court appearance Monday, and the judge set his bond hearing for Tuesday, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for King County prosecutor's office. He is being held in King County Jail on investigation of arson.

According to a court document released Monday, investigators learned Musmari had a one-way ticket to Turkey on Saturday. He was arrested by Seattle police that day as he was leaving his house. Officers believe he was on his way to the airport.

Police found U.S. and Libya passports on Musmari, who is a U.S. citizen, the court record shows.

It was unclear whether Musmari had an attorney. A call to a number listed in a court document as his emergency contact rang unanswered.

About 750 people were celebrating New Year's Eve in the nightclub Neighbours when an arsonist poured gasoline on a carpeted stairway and set it ablaze. A U.S. Army staff sergeant and an Air Force member quickly put out the fire before it spread. The club's sprinkler system activated, and no one was hurt.

Fire investigators found a one-gallon plastic container of gasoline at the top of the stairs, according to court records.

Detectives from the Seattle police arson/bomb squad, along with members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, have been investigating the case.

Police say in court documents that callers identified Musmari from surveillance video that had been released to the public.

In the videos, a man is seen carrying an object that is large and heavy enough to contain a one-gallon gas can shortly before midnight, according to the probable cause statement. He is seen walking toward the east stairway carrying an object, and the fire is seen in that stairway about 12 to 15 minutes later. The man is spotted on the main floor leaving the nightclub.