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Ohio man pleads guilty to plotting synagogue attack in Toledo

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Damon Joseph was arrested in 2018 and will likely face 20 years in prison for attempting to commit a hate crime and attempting to support a terrorist organization.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A Holland man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to supporting a terrorist organization and plotting an attack on a Toledo-area synagogue.

Damon Joseph, also known as Abdullah Ali Yusuf, will likely be sentenced to 20 years in prison in accordance with a plea agreement, according to his lawyer Neil McElroy. The maximum term he faces is life in prison.

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Joseph was arrested in December 2018 after a months-long FBI investigation was prompted by his social media activity showing support for ISIS and terrorism. An undercover agent began trading messages with him and eventually met him and provided him with a duffle bag containing two semi-automatic rifles, although law enforcement rendered them inoperable.

Joseph was charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS, attempting to commit a hate crime and possessing firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence. 

On Tuesday, Joseph pleaded guilty to attempting to provide resources to a terrorist organization and attempting to commit a hate crime. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 14.

Days after 11 people were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Joseph told an undercover agent he desired to carry out a similar attack in Toledo, according to court filings. 

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He told the agent he wanted to attack two synagogues, but concluded one attack would be more realistic.

Joseph specifically told an agent he wanted to kill a rabbi.

Records show Joseph expressed interest in becoming a recruiter for ISIS and sent the agent videos supporting terrorism. In December 2018 just prior to his arrest, he sent an agent a detailed plan of his attack.

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