TOLEDO, Ohio (AP/KDKA) – Federal authorities say they’ve charged two people in Ohio involved in planning separate attacks, including one who wanted to carry out a shooting at a synagogue.
The FBI and Department of Justice said Monday that the attacks were in the planning stages and that there was no immediate threat to the public.
But they say both people who are from the Toledo area had identified specific places they wanted to target.
The FBI says 21-year-old Damon Joseph, of Holland, Ohio, wanted to carry out an attack on behalf of ISIS and began focusing on two synagogues and talked of killing many people, including a rabbi.
According to the FBI, law enforcement became aware of Joseph in May of this year because of his social media activity. They said he would post motivational videos designed to recruit others. After he was discovered, undercover agents kept in constant contact with him.
“Joseph expressed his support for martyrdom operations and, in the wake of the horrific shooting weeks ago at the Pittsburgh-area Tree of Life Synagogue, Joseph stated his belief that Jewish people were evil and they got what was coming to them,” FBI Acting Special Agent In Charge Jeff Fortunato said.
Last week, he allegedly transitioned from videos to attack planning.
“He provided an undercover employee a draft plan which outlined general operational and logistical considerations for an attack. An attack that Joseph hoped would target Jews who support the state of Israel,” Fortunato said.
On Friday, Joseph agreed to take possession of two AR-15 rifles he believed the undercover employee had purchased for the attack. He was immediately arrested.
While federal authorities say Joseph became radicalized before the Tree of Life shooting, they also believe it motivated him.
“I don’t know about a copycat. I don’t think there’s anything in the complaint that speaks to that point. He clearly had some of his own ideas and those ideas he espoused to the undercover employees,” Fortunato said.
Officials say Joseph’s focus on the Jewish community and synagogues became more clear after the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting.
Joseph appeared in federal court Monday afternoon. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
Federal authorities say the other arrest involved a woman who wanted to shoot up a bar and also blow up a pipeline.
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