HOLLAND, Ohio (WDTN) – A 21-year-old man from Holland, Ohio, was arrested over the weekend for planning an attack on a synagogue in the Toledo area.
Damon M. Joseph was arrested on December 7 after he took possession of two AR-15 rifles.
He is charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS.
“This man spent months planning a violent terrorist attack on behalf of ISIS here in the United States, and eventually targeted a Jewish synagogue in the Toledo area,” says Justin E. Herdman, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “The charges describe a calculated man fueled by an ideology of hatred and intent on killing innocent people. The FBI, our police and Justice Department employees are to be credited for working to stop the defendant before he could act.”
Joseph drew attention of law enforcement earlier in 2018 after he posted photos of knives and firearms on his social media accounts, in addition to a photograph originally distributed by the media wing of ISIS.
He also complained that the mosque he attended was critical of ISIS, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo.
Joseph sent videos to an undercover agent in September, under the impression that they would be used to recruit people to ISIS.
He made statements suggesting he would be willing to participate in violent acts and operations, saying things like, “what must be done, must be done,” and, “there will always be casualties of war.”
While talking with the undercover agent, Joseph praised the mass shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, stating: “I admire what the guy did with the shooting actually. I can see myself carrying out this type of operation inshallah.”
On December 2, he forwarded a document containing his plans for an attack, with the intent to attack where the most people were gathered, inflict mass casualties, and make sure no one escaped.
He stated on December 4 that he was deciding between two different synagogues in the area to attack, depending on which one would have the most people. “Go big or go home,” he stated.
The next day, he met with the undercover FBI agent in person and discussed conducting a mass shooting at a synagogue, identifying which ones he wanted to target and describing what weapons he believed could inflict enough damage.
On December 6, he met again with an undercover agent and stated it would be preferable to attack two synagogues, but attacking just one was more realistic.
He stated that he specifically wanted to kill a rabbi.
Joseph was arrested December 7 after showing the undercover agent the two AR-15 type weapons he had purchased for the attack.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised of members of the FBI, Homeland Security and Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Toledo Police Department, is leading the ongoing investigation.