By Steve Pope | December 10, 2018
Federal authorities say an Ohio man who is charged with planning to attack an Ohio synagogue told an undercover federal agent he admired Robert Bowers, the man charged with the October massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.
Prosecutors alleged in an affidavit filed Monday that Damon Joseph, 21, of Holland, Ohio told the agent “I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually.” He added: “I can see myself carrying out this type of operation inshallah. They wouldn’t even expect [an attack] in my area.”
Joseph told the agent that had picked two Toledo-area synagogues as potential targets for the attacks that he planned to carry out in the name of ISIS.
On Dec. 4, Joseph stated he was deciding between two synagogues in the area to attack. He said his choice would depend on “Which one will have the most people, what time and what day. Go big or go home,” the affidavit said.
Earlier in 2018, Joseph drew the attention of law enforcement by posting photographs of weapons and various messages in support of ISIS on his social media accounts. This activity led to multiple interactions between Joseph and undercover FBI agents.
During his communication with undercover agents, Joseph stated his support for ISIS and produced propaganda in support of ISIS recruitment.
In September, Joseph made videos that he sent to the undercover agent that he hoped to use to recruit people to ISIS. He also complained that the mosque he attended was critical of ISIS.
On Dec. 2 Joseph sent a document that laid out his plans for an attack on one of the synagogues, using the name “Abdullah Ali Yusuf.”
In his plan Joseph said he wanted to inflict the most casualties during the attack and make sure no one escaped.
On Dec. 5, Joseph met with an undercover FBI agent and and provided them a list of the weapons he wanted, which included AR 15s, AK 47, Glocks and ammunition.
On Dec. 6, during a meeting with the agent Joseph stated he specifically that he wanted to kill a rabbi. He also told the agent he had conducted research to determine when the Jewish sabbath was so that more people would be present. Joseph showed the agent photographs of the inside of the synagogue and said he wanted the attack to begin in the sanctuary.
Joseph was arrested the next day after taking possession of several assault rifles that were provided by the undercover agent.
“This man spent months planning a violent terrorist attack on behalf of ISIS here in the United States, and eventually targeted a Jewish synagogue in the Toledo area,” said U.S. Attorney Herdman. “The charges describe a calculated man fueled by an ideology of hatred and intent on killing innocent people. The FBI, our police and Justice Department employees are to be credited for working to stop the defendant before he could act.”
Joseph remains in jail pending a detention hearing scheduled for later this week.
Steve Pope can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org