Damon M. Joseph

The FBI thwarted an ISIS-inspired mass shooting planned for a synagogue in the Toledo area. 

By: United with Israel Staff

Israel thanked the FBI on Tuesday for exposing and thwarting a plot to carry out a terrorists attack against the Jewish community in Toledo, Ohio.

“Our deep appreciation to FBI Cleveland and all authorities involved in thwarting this plot to attack the Jewish community of the City of Toledo and for your constant vigilance in protecting our American Jewish brothers and sisters,” Israel’s Consulate in New York stated.

The FBI announced Monday that it had arrested and charged an Ohio man in federal court after he planned an attack on a synagogue in the Toledo area.

The suspect, Damon M. Joseph, 21, of Holland, Ohio, was charged in federal court with one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, for allegedly planning an attack on a synagogue in Toledo.

Joseph was arrested Friday evening after he took possession of two semi-automatic rifles.

“Damon Joseph was allegedly inspired by ISIS’ call to violence and hate.  He planned to attack the victims, based on their religion, at a Toledo-area synagogue in the name of ISIS, and hoped that it would lead to the deaths of many and spread fear,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers. “His alleged actions would be an assault on the liberties and respect for humanity we hold so dear. We will continue to make every effort to prevent such attacks from occurring.

“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 US Attorney Justin Herdman for the Northern District of Ohio. “The charges describe a calculated man fueled by an ideology of hatred and intent on killing innocent people.”

“In a matter of months, Damon Joseph progressed from radicalized, virtual jihadist to attack planner,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Fortunato of the FBI’s Cleveland Division.  “He ultimately decided to target two Toledo-area synagogues for a mass-casualty attack in the name of ISIS. Joseph will now be accountable in a court of law for his pursuit of a violent act of terrorism upon our fellow citizens attending their desired house of worship.”

According to an affidavit filed in US District Court in Toledo, 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, as well as a photograph originally distributed by ISIS’ media wing.  This activity led to multiple interactions between Joseph and undercover FBI agents.

Support for Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre

During his exchange 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, hoping they would be used to recruit people to ISIS. He also complained that the mosque he attended was critical of ISIS.

Joseph stated his support for violent attacks and operations.  For example, on Oct. 21, Joseph expressed support for “martyrdom operations” and stated that “what must be done, must be done” and “there will always be casualties of war.”

On Oct. 30, Joseph and the undercover agent communicated regarding the mass shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. Joseph stated that he admires “what the guy did with the shooting actually.”  He added that he can see himself “carrying out this type of operation inshallah [God willing in Arabic]. They wouldn’t even expect [an attack] in my area…”

Over the next few weeks, Joseph continued stating he wanted to participate in an attack on behalf of ISIS.

On Dec. 2 he forwarded a document that laid out his plans for an attack, using the name “Abdullah Ali Yusuf” for himself.  In the document, he described plans to attack where the greatest number of people are gathered, inflict the most casualties during the attack and make sure no one escaped.

Joseph then stated that he did not see this necessarily as “a martyrdom operation” as his plan accounted for an escape and potential combat with law enforcement.

On Dec. 4, Joseph stated he was deciding between two synagogues in the area to attack. He stated the choice would depend on “which one will have the most people, what time and what day. Go big or go home.”

The next day, Joseph met with an undercover FBI agent and discussed conducting a mass shooting at a synagogue.

Joseph identified two synagogues he viewed as targets in the greater Toledo area, and discussed the types of weapons he believed would be able to inflict mass casualties.

Joseph made written notes about the firearms he wanted and provided them to the undercover agent, stating he wanted AR 15 and AK 47 assault rifles, Glock handguns and ammunition.

Wanted to Kill a Rabbi

On Dec. 6, Joseph met with an undercover in the Toledo area and stated it would be ideal to attack two synagogues, but that it was probably more realistic to only attack one. Joseph also stated specifically that he wanted to kill a rabbi.

The same day, Joseph wrote the name and address of the synagogue where the attack was to occur.  Joseph stated he had conducted research to determine when the Jewish Sabbath was so that more people would be present. Joseph pulled up photographs of the inside of the synagogue and said he wanted the attack to begin in the sanctuary. Joseph told the undercover agent that he would hide two semi-automatic rifles at his house once the undercover purchased them.

Later that day, the undercover agent told Joseph that he purchased rifles for the attack. The two met the next day at a predetermined location and Joseph took a black duffel bag containing two semi-automatic rifles, which had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement officers so that they posed no danger to the public. Joseph was then arrested.

Court records show that Joseph was charged with domestic violence nearly two years ago and later entered an Alford plea, which acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to convict without admitting guilt.

This incident comes just weeks after an anti-Semite entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and massacred 11 Jewish worshipers, including a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor.

Israeli Consul to New York Danny Dayan told IDF Radio on Tuesday morning that he had spoken to the Toledo Jewish community’s leadership and they were shaken up by the revelations.

“We are fearful of a reality in which we will be required to post security at synagogues in America,” he said.

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Source: United with Israel