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Ohio man indicted on charges of plotting synagogue attack

Posted: 7:44 AM, Jan 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-30 07:44:35-05

A man who allegedly had photographs of weapons and pro-ISIS messages on his social media accounts was indicted Tuesday on charges of targeting a Jewish house of worship, federal prosecutors in northern Ohio said.

Authorities have said Damon Joseph, 21, of Holland, Ohio, planned to kill worshipers inside a synagogue in Toledo with an assault rifle.

A federal grand jury indictment charges him with attempting to provide material support to ISIS, attempting to commit a hate crime and possessing firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence.

CNN has reached out to an attorney for Joseph, but has not received a response.

Joseph, also known as Abdullah Ali Yusuf, was arrested after taking possession of two semi-automatic rifles in December, authorities said.

Investigators became aware of Joseph after they noticed pictures of knives and firearms on his social media accounts, court records show. FBI agents posing as members of ISIS began a monthslong conversation with Joseph in which he offered his services in creating propaganda videos, officials said.

In September, agents asked Joseph whether he hated people in America. "Oh yeah, definitely," answered Joseph, according to court records. "The gays the Christians the Catholics the Jews you name it."

Undercover agents later met Joseph in person and were given a shopping list of weapons and ammunition, items he needed to mimic the October Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were killed, US Attorney Justin E. Herdman said in December. On his list was an assault rifle, semi-automatic pistol, at least two magazines and ammunition, authorities said.

By the time Joseph met with undercover agents, they said, he had narrowed his plot to one synagogue and showed one of the agents pictures from inside the structure, saying he wanted to start the killing spree in the sanctuary, records show. Joseph, who allegedly wanted to make sure he killed a rabbi, said he was going to raid the synagogue on the Sabbath so he would cause maximum bloodshed, records show.

In early December, agents sold Joseph two inoperable AR-15s and that is when they took him into custody, records show.