Federal law enforcement officials thwarted a potentially violent attack on Jewish and LGBTQ+ people, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Philip Sellinger announced Thursday.
According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in New Jersey, Omar Alkattoul, 18, of Sayreville, was charged with one count of transmitting a threat in interstate and foreign commerce the prior week.
Prosecutors allege that the teenager communicated with several people, some of whom he believed were ISIS operatives, about plans to attack Jewish people by shooting congregants at synagogues. He also told someone he had communicated with that he was targeting gay people and LGBTQ+ establishments.
A conviction could result in five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Using social media, Alkattoul posted an anti-Semitic diatribe stating he would attack a synagogue and threaten to kill Jewish people, Sellinger said in a statement.
“I was planning an attack, but it’s gonna take me years to prepare for it because I don’t have items and my parents do not like guns,” Alkattoul allegedly wrote in a message to an unidentified person, according to the criminal complaint. “I said I could be targeting a synagogue or gay night club.”
Alkattoul sent someone a link to the screed that outlined attacks on Jewish communities, the criminal complaint states. Authorities who found it on his cell phone said he allegedly sent the document to several people.
According to Alkattoul, authorities said, he was out to avenge the killings of Muslims, including the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.
The complaint also states that he admitted to law enforcement that he had posted a message that included, “God cursed the Jewish people and God should burn gay people.” He added that he wrote that he would “face or curb stomp the next f****t” he saw, but it was in a chat about live-action roleplaying as religious extremists.
After warning of a “broad threat” against synagogues in the state on Tuesday, the FBI indicated on Friday that the threat had passed without identifying any suspects.
“No one should be targeted for violence or with acts of hate because of how they worship,” Sellinger said. “There is nothing the U.S. Attorney’s Office takes more seriously than threats to our communities of faith and places of worship.”