WASHINGTON — A man from Ohio was sentenced to prison Monday for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and attempting to commit a hate crime, according to the United States Department of Justice.
Damon Joseph, who also goes by Abdullah Ali Yusuf, from Holland, Ohio, pleaded guilty in May to attempting to support ISIS and planning an attack on a synagogue in the Toledo area.
The 23-year-old drew the attention of law enforcement after posting pictures of weapons and messages supporting ISIS on social media, including a photograph originally sent from the media wing of ISIS, authorities said.
Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office said that Joseph progresses from a "self-radicalized, virtual jihadist to planning an actual attack on fellow Americans" in a matter of months.
In September 2018, Joseph began online conversations with several undercover FBI agents where he affirmed his support for ISIS repeatedly and produced propaganda he thought would be used for ISIS recruitment. A few weeks later, Joseph told the undercover agent that he wanted to participate in an attack for ISIS on "Jews who support the state of Israel."
Authorities said in his plans, Joseph accounted for an escape and combat with law enforcement.
Joseph at first forwarded a document to the undercover agent with his plan and on Dec. 4, 2020, met with an undercover agent where he further discussed his plan to conduct a mass shooting at two identified synagogues in the Toledo area.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Joseph made written notes about the firearms he wanted that would "inflict mass casualties," requesting Ar-15s, AK-47 Glock handguns, and ammo.
Two days after his first meeting with the undercover agent, Joseph met with them again, stating that he "wanted to kill a rabbi" and gave the agent the name and address of the synagogue he wanted to attack. He told the agent he researched when the Jewish Sabbath was to have more people present when he attacked.
After the second meeting, the agent told Joseph he had purchased the weapons for the attack and planned another meeting to hand them off. When Joseph took possession of the bag of weapons and ammo, which had been made inoperable to eliminate any danger to officers or the public, Joseph was arrested.
Joseph was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday.
“This sentence should send a strong message that those who target people with violence because of their religion, will be held to account. The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute individuals who use violence to attack our religious communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.