'They were partners in hate, intimidation, and crime'

Court sentences New Jersey men for firebombing synagogues, rabbi’s home.

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New Jersey State Capitol Building.jpg
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Two New Jersey men convicted in the firebombing of North Jersey synagogues in 2011 and 2012 were each sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Anthony Graziano and Aakash Dalal were charged on a 30-count indictment in 2013 with arson and bias-related incidents that occurred from December 2011 to January 2012 in the Bergen County towns of Paramus, Rutherford, Maywood and Hackensack, according to NorthJersey.com, which reported their sentencing Friday.

Aakash Dalal, a resident of the New Jersey borough of Lodi was convicted last November for vandalizing and firebombing synagogues and a rabbi’s home in 2012. He was convicted by a Bergen County court on 16 other counts, including conspiracy to commit arson, attempted arson, bias intimidation, possession of a weapon and possession of a destructive device.

Dalal, a former student at Rutgers University, was arrested in March 2012. Dalal has been called the mastermind behind the attacks and did not actually participate in them.

Graziano, his former high school classmate, was found guilty of terrorism and 19 other counts in May 2016 for the attacks.

The two, both in their 20s, were sentenced together because they worked as a partnership, Brian Sinclair, an assistant Bergen County prosecutor, told NorthJersey.com.

“They saw the world with the same set of eyes. They saw Jewish people not as people but as subhuman and like reptiles,” Sinclair said. “They were partners in hate, intimidation and crime.”

In one attack, Molotov cocktails thrown at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford set fire to a bedroom in the synagogue residence where the rabbi’s family lived. The rabbi, Nosson Schuman, was injured. He lives in the residence with his wife, five children and his parents, who were sleeping at the time.

At two other synagogues, Graziano spray-painted anti-Semitic epithets, including swastikas and “Jews Did 9/11.” Graziano allegedly was scared off an attack by an increased police presence.

The men also were charged with the January 2012 firebombing of Temple K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus and the attempted arson four days later of the Jewish Community Center of Paramus. The bias intimidation offenses related to Temple Beth Israel in Maywood and Temple Beth El in Hackensack.