An Ohio man was charged Monday for planning to attack a synagogue in Toledo using semi-automatic rifles.
Authorities arrested Holland resident Damon M. Joseph, 21, on Friday and charged him in federal court Monday with attempting to aid the Islamic State, according to a Monday Department of Justice press release.
“In a matter of months, Damon Joseph progressed from radicalized, virtual jihadist to attack planner,” said acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBIs Cleveland Division, Jeff Fortunato. “He ultimately decided to target two Toledo-area synagogues for a mass-casualty attack in the name of ISIS.”
Law enforcement officials began tracking Joseph after he allegedly posted a number of photographs and messages online. The messages expressed support for ISIS and intent to attack a Jewish synagogue, according to an affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court in Toledo.
Joseph sent a number of videos containing ISIS propaganda to undercover FBI agents in September and complained that his mosque criticized the terrorist group, the affidavit said.
“What must be done, must be done,” Joseph allegedly wrote in an Oct. 21 message supporting “martyrdom operations,” according to the affidavit.
He also allegedly expressed admiration for Robert Bowers who allegedly attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, killing 11.
“I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually,” Joseph allegedly wrote, adding that he could see himself carrying out a similar massacre.
“The charges describe a calculated man fueled by an ideology of hatred and intent on killing innocent people,” U.S Attorney Justin E. Herdman for the Northern District of Ohio said, according to the Justice Departments press release.
Oct 30 2018: A makeshift shrine to the victims of Saturdays deadly shooting outside of Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Shutterstock/Brendt Peterson
Using the name “Abdullah Ali Yusuf,” Joseph allegedly sent documents to undercover agents containing his plans to attack. Authorities say he described a desire to inflict the greatest number of casualties as possible, and he would ensure no one escaped. Joseph also allegedly said he would kill a rabbi.
“Go big or go home,” Joseph allegedly stated.
The documents also included escape plans, indicating Joseph did not intend to commit suicide. He allegedly made notes about using an AR-15 and AK-47 among other weapons to carry out the attack. (RELATED: FBI Foils July 4 Terror Plot By Al-Quida Sympathizer)
He considered two Jewish houses of workshop in the greater Toledo area, according to the affidavit, admitting, however, that a double attack would probably be difficult.
Joseph allegedly divulged the name and address of the synagogue he would target on Dec. 6, noting that he would begin the attack in its sanctuary using semi-automatic rifles.
“His alleged actions would be an assault on the liberties and respect for humanity we hold so dear,” said assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, according to the press release.
An undercover agent facilitated a gun exchange with Joseph after which authorities arrested him for intent to carry out a terrorist attack.
The FBI, Department of Homeland Security and a number of other law enforcement agencies are conducting an ongoing investigation into Joseph and the intended attack.
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