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Ohio Man Who ‘Admired’ Pittsburgh Synagogue Killer Charged with Planning Attack

A 21-year-old Ohio man who allegedly planned to carry out an attack on a Jewish synagogue in Toledo on behalf of ISIS was charged in federal court today. Damon M. Joseph of Holland, Ohio, was arrested in a sting operation Dec. 7 after he allegedly picked up two rifles in a duffel bag from an undercover agent. Prosecutors say Joseph told the officer that he planned to carry out an attack in a high-volume area and would likely battle it out afterward with law enforcement.

“Damon Joseph was allegedly inspired by ISIS’ call to violence and hate,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement. “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.”

Joseph gained the attention of law enforcement in May after posting numerous social media messages supporting ISIS, the DOJ said. In October, he allegedly told an undercover officer that he admired the killer who committed the mass shooting at the Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh in which 11 people were killed and seven others injured. He would allegedly go on to tell investigators that he would like to carry out an attack on a synagogue in the following weeks.  

“I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually,” Joseph allegedly said, according to court documents. “I can see myself carrying out this type of operation inshallah. They wouldn’t even expect [an attack] in my area.”

Joseph was tracked to a pawn shop, where he sold his computer on which he allegedly made numerous videos supporting ISIS — presumably to buy the firearms for the attack since “money is tight,” he indicated, according to court records.

On Dec. 6, Joseph allegedly provided the FBI with the name and address of the synagogue he was planning to attack, and detailed how he would carry out the attack by starting in the sanctuary area. The following day, an undercover agent told him that he’d bought the rifles for the attack. Both rifles had been rendered inoperable.

“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 U.S Attorney Justin E. 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. The FBI, our police and Justice Department employees are to be credited for working to stop the defendant before he could act.”

James Cullum
Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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