A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, on October 29, 2018 in which eleven Jews were killed while at Shabbat services.
A man who said he was preparing for a "racial holy war" was arrested Friday in Colorado, with federal authorities accusing him of plotting to blow up Temple Emanuel, a synagogue in Pueblo that dates back to 1900.
Richard Holzer was arrested Friday night after he believed he was picking up pipe bombs and dynamite from co-conspirators who turned out to be undercover federal agents.
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The agent allegedly told Holzer she could get her hands on pipe bombs from overseas to carry out the plan instead. Holzer said he'd like to meet up with them.
The FBI said the account was one of several that Holzer allegedly used to "promote white supremacy ideology" and racially-motivated acts of violence.
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Holzer was arraigned Monday afternoon on a charge of attempting to obstruct people from exercising their religion through force and attempted use of explosives and fire. They agreed to meet, along with the other undercover agents, at a motel on the night of November 1 to check the explosives before going to the synagogue. It's not clear if he has a lawyer representing him. On October 19, Holzer sent one agent a video of himself walking around the exterior of the synagogue and "commenting on various features of the building", the complaint says.
"After being contacted by undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agents posing as fellow white supremacists, Mr. Holzer indicated that he wanted to do something that would let Jewish people in the Pueblo community know that they are not welcome and that, according to him, they should leave or they will die", U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado Jason Dunn said.
He also allegedly claimed to have paid a Mexican cook to "hex and poison" synagogue members by putting arsenic in the water pipes past year.
"The allegation in the complaint constitutes domestic terrorism under federal law because it involves a criminal act risky to human life and was meant to coerce a civilian population", US Attorney Jason Dunn told a news conference on Monday. The FBI undercover agents provided Holzer with two pipe bombs and sticks of dynamite. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted.
He then allegedly spoke of using Molotov cocktails on the temple, and Holzer and the agents drove to the temple in Pueblo. The alleged gunman left a trail of anti-Semitic posts on social media before 11 congregants were fatally shot and six others were wounded in the deadliest attack on Jews in the U.S. Last month, Jewish groups gathered with law enforcement officials in Washington to plan how to respond to future attacks on Jewish facilities. Examples: • On Sept. 3, Holzer told a Facebook user, "I wish the Holocaust really did happen. they need to die".