A federal court in Florida has charged a man for plotting to throw an explosive device at an Aventura synagogue over the Passover holiday in an apparent plot to carry out an Islamic terror attack.
James Gonzalo Medina, 40, of Hollywood, appeared in court in Miami on Monday afternoon, local media outlets reported.
Medina, a convert to Islam, was arrested on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in an attempt to blow up the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center during Friday evening services, the last night of Passover. He was arrested Friday night as he walked toward the synagogue with what he thought was an explosive device in his hand, prosecutors said.
The suspect seemed to want to make a speech in court while calling himself James Muhammad, but was shut down by US Magistrate Judge William Turnoff, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Asked by an FBI informant why he wanted to attack the synagogue, Medina said it was his “call of duty” and something he had to do “for the glory of Allah,” the indictment said. Medina also told the informant he believed “Jewish people are the ones causing the world’s wars and conflicts.”
He said he was comfortable with causing innocent casualties, including the deaths of women and children, authorities said.
At first, Medina discussed a possibility of using an AK-47-style weapon to “just go in there and rampage everybody,” but later decided he would “like to use the bomb.”
Medina told acquaintances he wanted to make himself a “martyr” and he hoped news coverage of his planned attack would inspire other terrorist attacks, authorities said.
Medina also recorded a number of videos, investigators said, saying goodbye to his family and making threats.
“I am a Muslim and I don’t like what is going on in this world. I’m going to handle business here in America. Aventura, watch your back. ISIS [the Islamic State terror group] is in the house,” agents reported he said in one of the videos.
Medina has a number of prior arrests, including one in August 2012 when he was accused of sending violent threats via text message to a Coral Springs family.
If convicted, Medina faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison, according to the Sun Sentinel.