FBI agents have arrested a man, who identified as a white supremacist, from Colorado for plotting to bomb a synagogue. Richard Holzer was taken to court today, in a case the US prosecutors describe as “domestic terrorism”.
According to court documents, Richard Holzer planned to bomb the Temple Emanuel synagogue in the town of Pueblo, south of Denver to “get that place off the map”, as part of a “racial holy war”. Following a sting operation, the 27-year-old met FBI undercover agents to visit the temple and plan his attack.
During his court appearance, he requested a court-appointed lawyer to defend his case.
FBI special agent John Smith said in an affidavit that Holzer had “used several Facebook accounts to promote white supremacy ideology and acts of violence”, BBC reported.
Holzer had also written a series of anti-Semitic posts on Facebook, including one stating “I wish the Holocaust really did happen… they need to die,” the court documents show.
He told undercover officers that he used to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) – one of the oldest white supremacy groups in the US – and was now a skinhead.
FBI agent Smith specified situations in which Holzer threatened mass violence and used racial slurs against Jews and Hispanics.
He was arrested on November 1, and admitted to planning to blow up a synagogue that evening with pipe bombs and a dynamite, prosecutors said. He faces charges of attempting to obstruct religious exercise by force using explosives and fire. He is in federal custody and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted.
Following the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, in August – which is being treated as a ‘hate crime’ – more than two dozen people were reportedly arrested in three weeks over the potential to perpetrate mass violence. After treating extremists such as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites as a secondary threat for a long time, the FBI has recently stepped up it’s monitoring of such elements.
According to the New America think tank, since the 9/11 Al-Qaeda attacks, the number of deaths in the United States from far-right terrorist attacks has overtaken the number of those killed by jihadists, 109 to 104.
Last year, a 46-year-old gunman killed 11 people in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue during Shabbat services. He reportedly yelled “All Jews must die!” during the attack.
In August, a Las Vegas man was charged with possessing bomb-making materials and discussing plans to target another synagogue in contact with a “white supremacist extremist organization.”