A man has been arrested for threatening to kill officers of the Yonkers Police Department (YPD) and the Mayor of Yonkers.
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Keechant L. Sewell, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and Christopher Sapienza, Commissioner of the City of Yonkers Police Department (YPD), announced the arrest.
Ridon Kola was arrested on March 17 based on a criminal complaint filed in White Plains federal court charging Kola with making threatening interstate communications, in which he threatened to kill officers of the YPD and the Mayor of Yonkers.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Ridon Kola posted threats on social media against law enforcement, stating his support for ISIS and his intention to murder numerous police officers. Undeterred after questioning from law enforcement, Kola’s conduct escalated, as he continued to assure police his threats would be carried out. Threatening violence against police or to undermine public safety will not be tolerated, as Kola now stands charged and faces prison time for his threats against our dedicated law enforcement partners tasked with keeping us safe.”
As alleged in the complaint unsealed on March 17, Kola has engaged in escalating threats of violence against, among others, law enforcement, culminating in recent online threats against the YPD in connection with the Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day parade scheduled for Saturday, March 18. Kola’s posts demonstrate support for radical Islamic extremism and terrorist attacks. In a recent threatening post, Kola displayed himself with an ax.
On November 19, 2021, Kola posted to a YPD official social media account a message in Albanian that translated to the following: “I am going to slaughter you little girls.”
On December 5, 2021, Kola posted to the same YPD social media account a message stating that: “Starting tomorrow I will start killing your officers just so u know who is doing it, Ridon Kola Albanian blood,” and that he would also kill the Mayor of Yonkers.
Following those threats, in December 2021, YPD detectives interviewed Kola at his residence. Kola admitted to making the threatening posts but claimed he had no plans to harm YPD officers or the Mayor. Based on his demeanor, YPD subsequently issued a warning to officers to exercise diligence and caution in any encounters with Kola. Beginning in early 2023, and continuing in the days leading up to the planned St. Patrick’s Day parade, Kola escalated his threats against the YPD and other government officials and has expressed his support for violent Islamic extremism and terrorist attacks.
In January 2023, Kola posted multiple statements expressing support for “jihad,” or “to war against non-Muslims,” and the establishment of a “caliphate,” and depicting the raised index finger gesture used by jihadist groups, including the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
On March 6, 2023, appearing to reference YPD’s prior interview of himself, Kola sent a direct message to the YPD social media account stating: “I’m looking for that officer that came to my house and threatened me and my family to kill us. I’m going to burn the world until I find him Vallahi [by God], no matter what happens to me there will never be peace in this country anymore! Allahu Ekberr.” The phrase “Allahu Ekberr” is one form of an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great,” which radical Islamic extremists have proclaimed in connection with the commission of terrorist attacks.
The next day, March 7, 2023, Kola posted a statement praising Sayfullo Saipov, the recently convicted perpetrator of a terrorist attack for ISIS in which Saipov used a truck on Halloween in 2017 to murder eight victims and injure many more on a bike bath in lower Manhattan. Kola referred to Saipov as “my BROTHER.”
As of March 9, 2023, Kola’s social media account profile included the statement, “Now is personal America and the world!!!” and a threat to burn “cia fbi nsa police jud[g]es alive w their families too!”
Also on March 9, Kola sent two direct messages to the YPD social media account stating: “First people to be crucified will be the Yonkers rats Vallahi. Allahu Ekberr”; and “I will crucify Yonkers cops and their bosses all along McLean ave. It will be a horror scene . . . Allahu Ekberr.” McLean Avenue in Yonkers is part of the route for the Yonkers St. Patrick’s Day Parade taking place on March 18, and numerous YPD officers will be posted to the parade route along that street. Kola’s residence is in the area of the parade route.
Three days later, on March 12, 2023, Kola posted to his social media feed a photograph of himself holding an ax with a statement in Albanian, translated to the following: “Come on Judas, I’m waiting for you.”
The charge of making threatening interstate communications carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential penalty is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.
FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said yesterday: “As we allege today, Kola, who has demonstrated support for radical Islamic extremism and terrorist attacks, made a series of threats to the lives of law enforcement and others, and now he will be forced to face the consequences of his actions. Counterterrorism remains the FBI’s top priority, and through our NY JTTF, we remain committed to keeping all New Yorkers safe from acts of terror.”
NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said: “The NYPD remains steadfast in its commitment to fight against the grave threat of violence and hate in every form. This arrest reinforces our work to protect people and ensure consequences for those who are charged with threatening our way of life. I want to thank the members of the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and everyone else who worked to interdict and stop this threat.”
YPD Commissioner Christopher Sapienza said: “The safety of our residents, our community, and the members of our Police Department is paramount; every threat is investigated to the fullest extent possible. Thankfully, due to the outstanding collaborative efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and our Yonkers Police Intelligence Division, our City will enjoy a safe Saint Patrick’s Day parade tomorrow free from intimidation by bad actors.”
Attorney Williams praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of investigators and analysts from the FBI, the NYPD, and over 50 other federal, state, and local agencies. Mr. Williams also thanked the YPD and the Yonkers Police Intelligence Division for their assistance.
The case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Sullivan is in charge of the prosecution. The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.