Two indicted in synagogue firebombings

Two indicted in synagogue firebombings

ANew Jersey grand jury indicted two men charged with firebombing several synagogues in Bergen County.

Aakash Dalal and Anthony Graziano could face life in prison if convicted on all 30 counts in the indictment handed down March 1.

Dalal and Graziano, who were 19 at the time of the crimes in 2012, are charged with bias intimidation, conspiracy to commit arson on a synagogue, and aggravated arson as well as attempted murder and terrorism charges.

Graziano was arrested in January 2012, shortly after the attacks on Congregation K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus, the Jewish Community Center of Paramus, and Temple Beth El in Hackensack.

Dalal was arrested in March of that year.

One of the alleged attacks, on Congregation Beth El in Rutherford, injured Rabbi Nosson Schuman, who lives with his family in the synagogue residence. Molotov cocktails thrown at the synagogue set fire to the bedroom of the rabbi’s family.

The indictments, announced by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, were the culmination of an extensive investigation by multiple NJ police departments and were the first charges to be brought under New Jersey’s Anti-Terrorism Act, which was signed into law in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The NJ Anti-Defamation League welcomed the indictment, calling it “an important message that anti-Semitic attacks on the community are unacceptable.”

“We commend the efforts of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and NJ law enforcement for making these cases a priority and for pursuing terrorism and hate crime charges against the alleged perpetrators,” said NJ ADL board chair Ross Pearlson and regional director Jeffrey Salkin in a statement. “Throughout this entire process, prosecutor John Molinelli has devoted himself tirelessly to bringing the accused perpetrators of these anti-Semitic attacks to justice. The indictments send an important message that anti-Semitic attacks on the community are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

According to the NJ ADL officials, the organization worked with the community and law enforcement immediately following the attacks to deter future hate-fueled acts, encouraged increased police patrols near synagogues and Jewish community buildings, and urged Jewish community institutions to consider security measures.

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