ISIS supporter who planned synagogue shootings in the US charged with hate crime
The accused was inspired by the actions of Robert Bowers, who carried out a massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing over 10 worshippers and injuring 10 more, including 4 police officers, who tried to stop him.
Damon Joseph, 21, who was arrested last December on suspicions that he was planning to conduct a mass shooting at an Ohio synagogue, was charged on three accounts — planning a hate crime, obtaining firearms with intent of committing a crime, and attempting to provide material support to ISIS.
Joseph had been radicalised via the internet, according to law enforcement, as reported by local news outlet Cleveland.com, and had been thoroughly planning his attack. He explained his plans to an undercover agent and was subsequently arrested after the latter passed him two non-functioning AR-15 semi-automatic rifles that Joseph intended to use in his crime.
The accused told the agent that in his opinion, “the Jews are evil” and that he doesn’t regret wanting to kill them, “considering what they’re doing in Palestine”. By the time of his arrest, he had narrowed his choice of targets down to two synagogues, having chosen them based on the number of visitors, and also picked the day and time of the attack. Joseph was intending to flee the scene after the attack and avoid being killed or captured.
According to law enforcement, the man had been inspired by the synagogue attack in Pittsburgh in October 2018. Joseph admired Robert Bowers, who assaulted the Tree of Life temple, killing and wounding dozens of visitors, as well as several police officers who tried to stop him. He reportedly shouted “all Jews must die” during the attack.
Bowers was arrested after being shot in an exchange of fire with the police. He was later charged on 44 counts and if found guilty, he risks facing the death penalty or a life sentence without parole.