An Ohio man arrested for plotting a terror attack on a synagogue told investigators that he was inspired by both the terror group ISIS and the recent mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Damon Joseph, 21, was charged on Dec. 10, with one count of attempting to provide material support to the ISIS, the Department of Justice said.
The arrest came after Joseph obtained two semi-automatic rifles.
“In a matter of months, Damon Joseph progressed from radicalized, virtual jihadist to attack planner,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Fortunato in a statement.
“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.”
Joseph first attracted the attention of law enforcement when he posted photographs of weapons and various messages in support of the terror group across his social media groups. Soon, he was interacting with undercover FBI agents.
During those interactions, Joseph made clear his support for ISIS and complained that the mosque he attended was critical of the terror group. He sent an agent propaganda in support of ISIS recruitment, including videos that he said he hoped would be used to recruit people.
On Oct. 30, after the Pittsburgh synagogue attack, which left 11 people dead and others wounded, Joseph said during communication with an 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 [an attack] expect in my area…”
He planned such an attack and kept the undercover agent up to date with his plans. He identified two synagogues he wanted to target and discussed the types of weapons he would need to inflict a massive number of casualties.
Joseph was arrested on Dec. 7 when an agent delivered two rifles to Joseph.
“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,” said U.S Attorney Justin Herdman for the Northern District of Ohio in a statement.
Toledo Woman Arrested
The Department of Justice also on Monday announced the arrest of a Toledo woman after she bought black powder and screws that she thought would be used to make a bomb, which would then be used in a terror attack.
Elizabeth Lecron, 23, was charged with one count of transportation of explosives and explosive material for the purposes of harming others and property.
Lecron raised red flags after one of her associates said they wanted to conduct a violent attack. Agents checking Lecron’s social media accounts found frequent posts glorifying mass murderers, including the Columbine shooters. She and her associate flew to Denver at one point to visit the school, and she began corresponding with Dylann Roof.
Roof was convicted of killing nine people in a church in South Carolina in 2015.
An undercover FBI agent made contact with the pair and they planned to commit an “upscale mass murder” at a Toledo bar. She also began planning a bombing at a farm that had livestock to set the animals free.
She was arrested after buying black powder and screws to make the bomb.
“This defendant bought black powder and hundreds of screws that she expected would be used to make a bomb,” Herdman said in a statement. “Through her words and actions, she demonstrated that she was committed to seeing death and destruction in order to advance hate. This case demonstrates terrorism comes in many guises and we will remain vigilant to protect all Americans.”
Neighbors of both alleged criminals reacted with shock to news of the arrests, and what the man and woman were planning.
“It’s pretty crazy, just thinking that just a small, quiet apartment complex, something like that could happen around here,” Gilbert Lawrence, who lives in the same apartment building as Lecron and an unknown male partner, told WTOL.
“And it’s actually a really weird couple because you never really seen them, they wouldn’t really socialize with anybody, and not thinking about it, I just thought they were weird.”
In Holland, where Joseph lives, a mother said she was scared thinking of him living so close to her children while planning the attack.
“Friday night I was pulling out of my driveway and there was a swarm of undercover cars coming in and surrounded with badges and guns on to try and get into this house,” said Alicia Batdorf. “It’s scary considering that I live across the street and I have a six and seven-year-old.”
From NTD News