Holland man sentenced to 20 years for 2018 terror plot against synagogues

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 4:22 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A Holland man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday, for plotting to attack synagogues in the Toledo area in 2018.

Damon Joseph, 23, was arrested in December 2018. He was charged with offering material support to the terrorist organization ISIS, as well as attempting to commit a hate crime.

Joseph, who also went by the name Abdullah Ali Yusuf, initially entered a plea of Not Guilty.

“Damon Joseph was inspired by ISIS’ call to violence and hate,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “He planned to target innocents at a Toledo-area synagogue based on their religion and hoping that it would lead to the deaths of many and spread fear. His actions would have been an assault on the liberties and respect for humanity we hold so dear.”

According to prosecutors, 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 he believed was to be used for ISIS recruitment efforts. 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.” 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. 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.

On Dec. 6, Joseph again met with an undercover agent to discuss his plans. Joseph stated specifically that he wanted to kill a rabbi and wrote the name and address of the synagogue where the attack was to occur and stated that he had conducted research to determine when the Jewish sabbath was so that more people would be present. Later that day, the undercover agent told Joseph that he had purchased rifles for the attack.

The two met on Dec. 7 at a predetermined location, where Joseph took possession of a black duffel bag containing two semi-automatic rifles, which had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement officers so that they posed no danger to the public. Joseph was then arrested.

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