Florida man charged with plot to blow up synagogue

James Gonzalo Medina, a convert to Islam, charged with trying to blow up synagogue near Miami with a fake bomb.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,


A Florida man has been arrested and charged with trying to blow up a synagogue with a fake bomb following an FBI sting operation, AFP reported on Monday.

James Gonzalo Medina, 40, was accused of intending to use a "weapon of mass destruction" at a synagogue in the city of Aventura near Miami, the Justice Department said.

The FBI had earlier placed him under surveillance after he expressed anti-Semitic sentiments to an undercover informant.

The criminal complaint says Medina claimed to have converted to Islam about four years ago and planned to claim that the Islamic State (ISIS) group had planned the attack.

After Medina studied the synagogue, he was given an inert device he believed to be a bomb. He was arrested Friday while en route to the synagogue.

In an April 1 conversation, Medina told the undercover officer that Yom Kippur would be "a good day to go and bomb them," according to the criminal complaint.

He also recorded farewell videos in which he made threats and said goodbye to his family.

"I am a Muslim and I don't like what is going on in this world. I'm going to handle business here in America. Aventura, watch your back. ISIS is in the house," the complaint said he declared in one video, according to AFP.

Rabbi Jonathan Berkun and other officials from the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center said on Twitter that the synagogue and its affiliated school were open and "operating as usual" on Monday.

"The synagogue was never at risk nor are there any credible threats directed against the congregation at the present time," they added.

Medina, who was charged Saturday, could face life in prison. He has not yet been indicted.

The FBI employs a network of informants that is estimated to number at least 15,000. Often well-compensated, they take part in investigations into a wide range of activities from pedophilia and drugs to Islamic extremism.

Radicalization has been an issue throughout the Western world and has not skipped the United States, where there have been several incidents of civilians being arrested before they were able to carry out a terrorist attack.

In January, for example, 23-year-old Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was arrested by the FBI for planning a shooting attack on a Masonic Temple in Milwaukee.

Hamzeh had originally planned to travel to Jordan and from there enter Judea and Samaria and conduct an attack on Israeli soldiers and citizens, but eventually abandoned those plans and began to focus on conducting an attack in the United States.

American authorities over the past year or so have arrested and charged several people of supporting ISIS. Faisal Mohammad, a California college student who stabbed four people late last year was reported to have been carrying an image of the black flag of ISIS as well as a handwritten manifesto with instructions to behead a student and multiple reminders to pray to Allah.

AFP contributed to this report.