Ohio-based federal authorities announced Monday that they have arrested two people involved in planning separate terrorist attacks in the state, one of whom was a convert to Islam and another who was considering an attack on a pipeline.
FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Jeff Fortunato said during a Monday morning press conference that 21-year-old Damon Joseph was placed in custody Friday evening for attempting to provide “material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.”
Fortunato revealed that when Joseph was asked by an undercover agent if he “felt hate for the people of the United States,” Joseph replied: “Oh, yeah. Definitely. The gays, the Christians, the Catholics, the Jews—you name it.”
After the horrific Pittsburgh synagogue attack, Joseph told an undercover officer that he could see himself carrying out “this type of operation inshallah,” which means “god willing” in Arabic. Joseph told authorities that he believed Jewish “people are evil and they got what was coming to them” in response to the Pittsburgh massacre.
Authorities became aware of Joseph through his online social media activities, and said that he produced ISIS-inspired videos online. According to Fortunato, Joseph’s transition from “virtual to psychical jihad was well underway.”
“In November, he stated that physical jihad was the path he would eventually take. He disclosed to an undercover employee that his physical jihad would consist of a shooting. In December, he transitioned to attack planning,” Fortunato said Monday, calling Joseph a “convert to Islam” who had pledged his allegiance to the leader of ISIS.
Joseph was looking for “recruits” online and even expressed his support for martyrdom operations. Fortunato said Joseph’s planned attack was going to “target Jews who supported the state of Israel.”
He was arrested after taking possession of weapons from an undercover agent that he wasn’t legally allowed to possess due to a prior crime. Authorities placed him in custody Friday evening along with 23-year-old Elizabeth Lecron, who was arrested on unrelated charges.
Later Monday morning, the FBI announced that Lecron was charged with one count of transportation of explosives and explosive material with the intent of harming others, according to WMBF. She was an admirer of Charleston shooter Dylan Roof and corresponded with him, in one case attempting to send him Nazi literature, an affidavit states.
She talked with an undercover agent about carrying out numerous types of “upscale mass murder,” and was considering a Toledo bar, a livestock farm, her workplace, and a pipeline as targets.
Both Joseph and Lecron had been under investigation for months, and revealed their plans to undercover FBI agents, according to the Department of Justice.
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