A man will spend two decades in prison years after he attempted to help undercover federal agents he thought were involved with ISIS plan a massacre against a synagogue.
A Holland, Ohio, man named Damon Joseph, who also goes by Abdullah Ali Yusuf, was arrested in 2018 and arraigned in federal court after he accepted firearms that were modified to be inoperable by FBI agents following an investigation.
According to agents, they interacted with Joseph, now 23, after he expressed online support for Islamist terrorists online.
“Beginning in September 2018, Joseph engaged in a series of online conversations with several undercover FBI agents where he repeatedly stated and affirmed his support for ISIS and produced propaganda which he believed was to be used for ISIS recruitment efforts,” the Justice Department said in a news release on Monday.
The DOJ said Joseph indicated he wanted to kill Jews attending at least two synagogues in Toledo.
“Over the next few weeks, Joseph stated to an undercover agent that he wanted to participate in an attack on behalf of ISIS. On Dec. 2, 2018, Joseph forwarded a document to the agent that laid out his plans for such an attack on ‘Jews who support state of Israel,’” the department said. “Joseph then stated that he did not necessarily see this as ‘a martyrdom operation’ as his plan accounted for an escape and potential combat with law enforcement.”
“On Dec. 4, Joseph met with an undercover FBI agent and discussed conducting a mass shooting at a synagogue. Joseph identified two synagogues in the greater Toledo area as potential targets and discussed the types of weapons he believed would inflict mass casualties,” the department said. “Joseph made written notes about the firearms he wanted and provided them to the undercover agent, stating he wanted AR 15s, AK 47, Glock handguns and ammunition.”
The man told one federal agent that he hoped to specifically seek out and kill a rabbi.
Joseph was arrested after he accepted a duffel bag of the inoperable weapons. He pleaded guilty in May on counts of attempting to provide resources to a terrorist organization and attempting to commit a hate crime, WTOL-TV reported.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko for the DOJ’s National Security Division announced Joseph would spend 20 years in prison in the department’s news release.
“Inspired by ISIS, Damon Joseph planned to conduct a deadly terrorist attack at a synagogue in Ohio. He hoped to cause mass casualties by selecting a time when numerous innocent victims would be present,” Lesko said. “For this conduct, he will now spend 20 years in prison.”
U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan of the Northern District of Ohio said a lifetime supervised release was part of a deal Joseph made with federal prosecutors.
“Today, Damon Joseph was sentenced to 20 years of incarceration and a lifetime term of supervised release for attempting to support ISIS through violent attacks on Jewish congregants, including children, and any first responders who sought to protect and assist them,” Brennan said.
“It is difficult to conceive of a more heinous plot, let alone reconcile that this plot involved violating our country’s solemn obligation to protect the civil rights of every person in an effort to support a foreign terrorist organization.”
Eric B. Smith. the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office, said Joseph was radicalized online in only a few months.
“In a matter of months, Damon Joseph progressed from a self-radicalized, virtual jihadist to planning an actual attack on fellow Americans,” Smith said. “Mr. Joseph will now serve time behind bars for his actions.”
“In the name of ISIS, Joseph planned a mass-casualty attack against citizens simply wanting to attend their desired houses of worship, which were two Toledo-area synagogues. Joseph’s terroristic actions are antithetical to a just and free society, and he will serve a lengthy sentence as a result,” he added.
“The FBI would like to remind the public to remain vigilant so we can continue to thwart these types of threats together.”
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