'Hatred towards Jews a good thing:' Man arrested after threat to NJ Jews

“Good Jews do not exist unless if [sic] they convert to Islam," said Omar Alkattoul, 18. He faces up to 5 years in prison.

FBI headquarters building is seen in Washington, US, December 7, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS/FILE PHOTO)
FBI headquarters building is seen in Washington, US, December 7, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS/FILE PHOTO)

The man who led the FBI to warn of a "broad threat" to the New Jersey Jewish community was arrested and charged on Thursday for online distribution of a manifesto containing threats to attack Jewish houses of worship, the New Jersey US Attorney's Office announced. He currently faces up to five years in prison.

Omar Alkattoul, 18, of Sayreville, New Jersey, has shared a document entitled "When Swords Collide," on several communication applications to various unnamed individuals detailing the motive and ideology behind an attack he had at times expressed a desire to commit against a synagogue or LGBTQ+ targets.

“No one should be targeted for violence or with acts of hate because of how they worship,” US attorney Philip Sellinger said. “According to the complaint, this defendant used social media to send a manifesto containing a threat to attack a synagogue based on his hatred of Jews."

"I’ve been thinking about jihad for a while now and I just came to this conclusion of how and where."

Omar Alkattoul

Islamic State-inspired plan for terrorism

Alkattoul wrote that the attack would have been carried out on behalf of the Islamic State, and referred to Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other Islamic terrorists as "heroes." Alkattoul had viewed online Islamic State propaganda and had been in contact with someone he believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda in Pakistan. 

"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. I said I could be targeting a synagogue or gay nightclub. And this would be AQ [al-Qaeda]affiliated attack,”  Alkattoul told one of his friends according to the criminal complaint. "I’ve been thinking about jihad for a while now and I just came to this conclusion of how and where."

 The Federal Bureau of Investigation seal is seen at FBI headquarters before a news conference by FBI Director Christopher Wray on the U.S Justice Department's inspector general's report regarding the actions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 2016 US presidential election in Washington, (credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS) The Federal Bureau of Investigation seal is seen at FBI headquarters before a news conference by FBI Director Christopher Wray on the U.S Justice Department's inspector general's report regarding the actions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the 2016 US presidential election in Washington, (credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS)

Suspect hesitant to commit an attack

The suspect doubted he currently had the resources to carry out an attack, and at times told his online allies that he did not actually intend to carry out the attack. Alkattoul told investigators that he would not actually carry out an attack, saying in October her was "50\50" on whether he would carry out an act of terrorism.

While he had researched how to obtain again and practice at a shooting range, he told investigators that he and others were merely "LARPing" [Live Action Role Playing], and that he lacked the courage to carry out the attack, didn't want to disappoint his parents, serve time in prison, get shot or die.

"Let’s be honest, I’m not man enough to act on any of this,” he reportedly told a friend after discussing bombing Hezbollah because they were a Shia organization. 

Alkattoul's motivation

Alkattoul said in his manifesto that he had been radicalized after supposedly seeing "Kahane-ists" sharing "sharing photos of dead Arab children and praising the people who killed them," according to the charging document.

"This attack was just to remind the Jews that as long as one Muslim remains in this world they will never live a pleasant life until the Muslims in Palestine, Syria, West Africa, and South Asia are living a pleasant life. The Jews support terror against the muslimeen [sic] and always have," said a section that explained Alkattoul's motivation for the attack. "So the motive of this attack is hatred towards Jews and their heinous acts and I don’t want anyone to tell me for a second that 'not all Jews support terror against Muslims,' yes they do! They have since day one. Their Torah justifies their acts and let’s keep in mind it was a Jew that tried to kill" the prophet Muhammed.

Extreme hatred of Jews, Christians, and some Muslims

Alkattoul expressed a hatred against Jews and Muslims that did not meet his Jihadi standards.

“Good Jews do not exist unless if [sic] they convert to Islam," said his manifesto. "I hate Jews based ontheir actions and their religion that justifies the actions they do.” 

He denied the Holocaust, joked about throwing Molotov cocktails at Jews, and had one section in the manifesto entitled, “Why hatred towards Jews is a good thing even if they’re not Zionists.”

He also praised white supremacist mass shooter Dylann Roof for his shooting of a church, and said that "a lot Muslims in the west should learn from him.” 

A "broad threat" averted

“When we learn of credible threats to our community – whether based in hate toward religion, race, sexual orientation, or gender – we call on law enforcement and community partners to assist in identifying and mitigating that threat,” Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts among our Joint Terrorism Task Force Members, a potentially harmful situation was averted."

The FBI had first warned about the threat on November 3, saying that it had "received credible information of a broad threat to synagogues in NJ [New Jersey]."

The Newark office of the FBI said that it was calling on locals to take security precautions. A rabbi in New Jersey said that police had increased patrols in many areas of New Jersey, and Rutgers University Police increased presence and patrols around the Chabad House.

A day after, on November 4, the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit's Frankel academy was evacuated after pipe bomb threats were made. No explosives were found at the Jewish center.

Zvika Klein contributed to this report.