WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Northwest Ohio resident who admitted plotting a mass shooting at a Toledo-area synagogue to show his allegiance to ISIS was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison.
Damon M. Joseph, aka Abdullah Ali Yusuf, 23, of Holland, Ohio, was arrested on Dec. 7, 2018, moments after he grabbed a duffel bag that contained two semi-automatic rifles from an undercover FBI agent’s car. The weapons had been disabled by FBI agents. He pleaded guilty in May to charges of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to commit a hate crime.
Federal agents began monitoring Joseph after he posted photographs of weapons and various messages in support of ISIS on his social media accounts, as well as a photograph originally distributed by the media wing of ISIS.
Undercover agents, posing as sympathizers, connected with Joseph online about ISIS, and he sent videos about the terrorist group. He spoke, however, of wanting to do more, court records show.
In October 2018, just days after the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people and wounded six, Joseph discussed his hatred of Jews, prosecutors said.
“My opinion is the Jews are evil, and they get what’s coming to them,” Joseph told an agent, adding, “I don’t feel bad at all considering what they’re doing in Palestine.” He also told the undercover officer, “I can see myself carrying out this type of operation.”
On Dec. 2, 2018, Joseph forwarded a document to an FBI agent that laid out his plans for an attack on “Jews who support state of Israel,” authorities say. Joseph said he did not necessarily see this as “a martyrdom operation” as his plan accounted for an escape and potential combat with law enforcement.
Joseph met with an undercover FBI agent on Dec. 4 and discussed conducting a mass shooting at a synagogue, with two in the Toledo area as potential targets. Authorities say Joseph had written notes about the firearms he wanted and provided them to the agent, saying he wanted AR-15s, an AK-47, Glock handguns and ammunition.
Joseph again met with an undercover agent on Dec. 6, saying he wanted to kill a rabbi, authorities say. He wrote the name and address of the synagogue he wanted to attack.
“Inspired by ISIS, Damon Joseph planned to conduct a deadly terrorist attack at a synagogue in Ohio,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a news release. “He hoped to cause mass casualties by selecting a time when numerous innocent victims would be present.”
The undercover agent told Joseph he had purchased rifles for the attack and they met on Dec. 7. Joseph took a black duffel bag containing two inoperable semi-automatic rifles. He was then arrested.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, comprised of more than 50 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, investigated the case.
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