New Jersey man admits posting broad online threat to synagogues
Jul 12, 2023, 10:53 AM
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man has admitted posting a broad online threat that spurred heightened security at synagogues and Jewish schools in the state last year,
Omar Alkattoul, 19, of Sayreville, pleaded guilty Wednesday to transmitting a threat in interstate and foreign commerce. He faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced Nov. 14.
Federal prosecutors have said Alkattoul expressed hatred of Jews and admitted posting online that “God cursed the Jewish people and God should burn gay people.” He also told investigators he had researched how to obtain a gun, shooting ranges, and mass shootings but in the days before posting his threat was “about ‘50/50’” on whether he would actually carry out an attack.
Authorities have said they did not believe Alkattoul had the means to carry out any specific attack.
Alkattoul used a social media app on Nov. 1, 2022, to send a link to a document entitled “When Swords Collide,” according to prosecutors, and he admitted to the person he sent it to that he wrote the document, stating: “It’s in the context of an attack on Jews.” According to the second individual, Alkattoul also sent the document to at least five other people using another social media application.
The FBI issued a statewide alert on Nov. 3 and announced a suspect had been identified the next day, but they did not identify him at that time. The warning prompted some municipalities across the state to send extra police officers to guard houses of worship and schools.
Public warnings about nonspecific threats against Jewish institutions, made by groups including Christian supremacists and Islamic extremists, aren’t unusual in the New York City area, and many turn out to be false alarms.
But the area has also seen deadly attacks, including the firebombings of two synagogues and an attack on a rabbi’s home in 2012, a fatal stabbing at a kosher market and a police officer.