Bergen police nab second man in synagogue attacks

Bergen police nab second man in synagogue attacks

Arrest of Lodi resident resolves recent spree of arson and graffiti

With the arrest of a second Lodi resident, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has announced that they have resolved all the executed and planned attacks on area synagogues that took place in December and January.

Nineteen-year-old Aakash Dalal was arraigned March 5 as co-conspirator in the most dangerous attacks, in which firebombs were thrown into the rabbi’s residence at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford.

According to Bergen County prosecutor John Molinelli, who announced the arrest at a Friday afternoon press conference on March 2, Dalal, a onetime Rutgers University student, has been friends since middle school with Anthony Graziano, who was arrested in January and charged with nine counts of attempted murder for the Rutherford attack.

The prosecutor said Dalal orchestrated all five anti-Semitic incidents, which began in December with anti-Semitic graffiti spray-painted on synagogues in Maywood and Hackensack and concluded with a planned but never executed attack on the Jewish Community Center of Paramus.

Dalal pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. He and Graziano are being held on $2.5 million bond each at the Bergen County jail.

Prosecutors say Dalal planned the attacks and goaded Graziano in a series of instant messages.

Dalal was a “person of interest” in the investigation prior to Graziano’s arrest, according to Molinelli.

Following Graziano’s arrest, a message fingering Dalal was anonymously posted in the comments of news reports about the arrest, including on The Jewish Standard’s website. The message read: “I have personally known anthony for a few years now. he is not mentally all there he needs help, he shouldn’t be serving his time in prison he should be placed in a psychiatric hospital. he has been influenced/taking under the wing by an individual named aakash dalal. this individual has put thoughts into his head that rich upper class people of the jewish community are going to take over the world. I believe that this individual made anthony commit these actions to aid in ‘the movement’ dalal is trying to create.”

The Jewish Standard forwarded this comment to the prosecutor’s office.

On the day of Graziano’s arrest, a letter to the editor signed by Aakash Dalal was published on the website of the Rutgers student newspaper The Daily Targum, defending Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and attacking the Federal Reserve. When enrolled at Rutgers, Dalal had been a member of Young Americans for Liberty, a campus group that supports Paul.

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