Ohio man given 20 year prison sentence for plotting to attack synagogue

Radicalized by ISIS propaganda, man told undercover FBI agent that he wanted to attack a Toledo synagogue and kill a rabbi.

Dan Verbin ,

Toledo, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio

An Ohio man was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday for plotting an attack on a Toledo synagogue and providing material support to a terrorist organization, WTOL 11 reported.

Damon Joseph, also known as Abdullah Ali Yusuf, of Holland, Ohio, pleaded guilty in May to attempting to provide resources to a terrorist group and planning an attempted hate crime.

His plea agreement meant that he would likely receive 20 years behind bars instead of a life sentence.

In 2018, Joseph was charged in a federal court in Toledo with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. He told an undercover FBI agent that he was inspired by the shooting attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that left 11 worshippers dead.

“I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually,” Joseph, then 21, said of the Pittsburgh shooting to an undercover agent, according to the Department of Justice. “I can see myself carrying out this type of operation.”

Joseph told the agent that he wanted to kill a rabbi, the Toledo Blade reported, according to an FBI affidavit. He also said, according to the FBI, that “Jewish people were evil and deserved what was coming to them.”

Before handing down the sentence, the judge let Jospeh read a letter in which he said that at the time of his attempted hate crime he was “naive and ignorant of religion” and that he had been radicalized through online ISIS propaganda, and had done significant learning since he was arrested.

The prosecution stressed that Joseph had told law enforcement that he had a nine-point plan to carry out a mass murder on the Jewish community and that he plotted with an undercover FBI agent he thought was an ISIS sympathizer.

Only days after the Tree of Life attack, Joseph told an undercover agent that he wished to carry out a similar hate crime in Toledo, court documents said.

Filings also revealed that Joseph had been interested in becoming an ISIS recruiter and sent videos to the undercover agent in support of terrorism. In December 2018, shortly before he was arrested, he gave the agent a detailed plan of how he would carry out his attack on the Jewish community.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo released a statement commending the court’s decision on sentencing.

"The sentence reflects the community's rejection of his hate and punishes him appropriately,” they said. “We are grateful to the Court, to the FBI, local law enforcement and the US attorney's office for the Northern District of Ohio for their careful attention and diligence in bringing Mr. Joseph to justice and for protecting our community."