Omar Alkattoul is an 18-year-old accused of making threats to synagogues in New Jersey, federal authorities say. Alkattoul was arrested on November 10, 2022, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said in a press release.
New Jersey U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger said in a statement, “No one should be targeted for violence or with acts of hate because of how they worship. 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. Along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we acted swiftly to respond to the alleged threat.
Sellinger added, “There is nothing the U.S. Attorney’s Office takes more seriously than threats to our communities of faith and places of worship. Protection of these communities is core to this office’s mission, and this office will devote whatever resources are necessary to keep our Jewish community and all New Jersey residents safe.”
Alkattoul, of Sayreville, New Jersey, in Middlesex County, was charged with transmitting a threat in interstate and foreign commerce, prosecutors said. The threats were made on or about November 1, 2022, according to the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The threats led to authorities issuing a warning to New Jersey-area synagogues and increased security as a precaution, officials said.
Here’s what you need to know about Omar Alkattoul:
1. Omar Alkattoul Wrote a Manifesto Called ‘When Swords Collide’ & Said It Is About ‘an Attack on Jews,’ Federal Prosecutors Say
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, “On Nov. 1, 2022, Alkattoul used a social media application to send an individual a link to a document entitled ‘When Swords Collide’ and admitted to this individual that he wrote the document, stating: ‘It’s in the context of an attack on Jews.”’According to a second individual, Alkattoul also sent the document to at least five other people using another social media application.”
In the criminal complaint, the FBI said Alkattoul wrote in the manifesto:
I am the attacker and I would like to introduce myself. . . I am a Muslim with so many regrets but I can assure you this attack is not one of them and Insha’Allah many more attacks like these against the enemy of Allah and the pigs and monkeys will come.
I will discuss my motives in a bit but I did target a synagogue for a really good reason according to myself and a lot of Muslims who have a brain. Let’s be aware of the fact that the Jews promote the biggest hatred against Muslimeen even in the west. The Jews are in fact a very powerful group in the west which is why western countries today shill for them on top of the murtadeen in Saudi Arabia and every Arab country.
Alkattoul also wrote, according to prosecutors, “This attack was just to remind the Jews that as long as 1 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 and they always have .”
The complaint quotes Alkattoul’s manifesto, “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 nebi SAW.”
2. Alkattoul’s Father Told The Daily Beast His Son Was Chatting With ‘Bad People’ Online
Alkattoul’s father told The Daily Beast after the his son’s arrest, “I don’t know what is going on with these kids. Omar is [a] very nice boy, but he was talking with bad people on the internet… We don’t know exactly what Omar did… but it is something against Jews, he told me.” He told the news site FBI agents arrested Alkattoul at their home at 6 a.m. on November 10.
In the criminal complaint, the FBI said they searched Alkattoul’s iPhone on November 4, 2022, and uncovered the messages he had sent about attacking Jewish people. Alkatooul told the FBI during an interview on November 3 that he talked to people online who had “radicalized” him and helped him learn how to protect his iPhone and social media applications from being detected by law enforcement, including “changing his web search engine.”
He told the FBI he was in a group chat of people he believed to be “LARP-ing,” or live-action role playing, as “terrorist/jihadis,” according to the complaint. He claimed his posts in the group chat were made in a “joking manner,” and he did not “have the balls” to carry out an attack and didn’t want to go to “prison, get shot or die,” according to the complaint.
In the complaint, an FBI agent wrote, “When Alkattoul was asked if he would carry out an attack if he had his own money and did not live with his parents, he claimed that he would not.” Referencing the manifesto, the FBI agent said, “When asked if the Document was real or fake, he replied that part of it was real, but he then claimed that it was fake.”
3. Alkattoul Pledged Allegiance to the Leader of ISIS in Text Messages & Talked to Overseas Supporters of Terror Groups, According to Court Documents
According to the FBI, Alkattoul told agents during a November 3 interview that he was “radicalized” by ISIS propaganda on a social media app. He also said he talked to people he believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda in Pakistan and a terrorist supporter based in Germany, according to the criminal complaint.
According to the FBI, Alkattoul was taken to the hospital for an evaluation after his interview with the FBI and he told ambulance personnel he “supported ISIS and al-Qaeda.” He told the hospital employee, “although some things he said on social media were a joke, one thing that was not a joke was his wanting to plan an attack on a synagogue.”
An FBI agent wrote in the complaint, “Alkattoul admitted that he had seen information about making bombs posted in the Application-3 group chat, but he had never personally looked into making a bomb or posted information about bombmaking. He admitted that on or about October 23, 2022, he posted a statement in Application-3 saying that he wanted to throw a bomb on Hizballah because they were Shia, and he did not like Shiites because of their beliefs. He then claimed, ‘but let’s be honest, I’m not man enough to act on any of this.'”
The FBI agent added, “Alkattoul also stated that he would not give money to individuals who wanted to commit an act of violence. He admitted that he had hostility but would not be violent himself. He claimed that if he heard about someone wanting to do something violent, he would tell them not to do it because he would feel bad if they got arrested or killed. Alkattoul said, however, that he would not feel bad for the victims of violence.”
4. Alkattoul Also Talked About Targeting Gay Nightclubs & Praised Convicted Black Church Shooter Dylann Roof, According to the Complaint
According to the FBI, Alkattoul talked about carrying out an attack that included “bombings, shootings and ‘maybe’ beheadings.” He also talked about the attack being in retaliation for the mass shooting attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.
The FBI said that in August 2022 he sent a message to another person saying, “As a Muslim I support Dylann Roof,” a reference to the Neo-Nazi who killed nine people in a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. He also sent a photo of Roof and said, “Me in church and synagogue.”
In October 2022, Alkattoul wrote in a text, “I hate Jews, and I love the Islamic State,” according to the complaint. He also talked about carrying out an attack on a gay nightclub, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, “Alkattoul told law enforcement that he considered an attack on a synagogue in New York but would need two years to prepare for such an attack. Alkattoul said that he researched how to obtain a gun, shooting ranges, and mass shootings. He also said that if he were to conduct an attack, it would be a shooting attack. He said he would not feel bad for the victims but would feel bad for the families of the victims. Alkattoul claimed that as of October 29, 2022, he was about ’50/50′ on whether or not he would commit an attack.”
5. Omar Alkattoul, Who Remains in Custody After His Arrest, Faces Up to 5 Years in Federal Prison if Convicted
According to prosecutors, “The charge of transmitting a threat in interstate and foreign commerce is punishable by a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.” It was not immediately clear if Alkattoul has an attorney who could comment on his behalf. He remains in federal custody, court records show.
FBI Special Agent in Charge James Dennehy said in a statement, “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. Thanks to the collaborative efforts among our Joint Terrorism Task Force Members, a potentially harmful situation was averted.
Dennehy added, “I would like to commend and show our appreciation for the resources from the District of New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the Sayreville Police Department, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Let it be known that when a threat of violence comes to our attention, the FBI and our partners will respond to keep the public safe.”