28-year-old Richard Holzer will be spending the next two decades of his life in prison after he pleaded guilty to plotting to blow up a Colorado synagogue, the Department of Justice announced on Saturday.
“Holzer pleaded guilty to intentionally attempting to obstruct persons in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs, through force and the attempted use of explosives and fire,” the DOJ said in a statement.
The 2019 plot by Holzer, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, has been deemed a hate crime by the FBI.
“The planned bombing, which Holzer declared was ‘a move for our race,’ was born from years of Holzer consuming and promoting white supremacist ideology.” the DOJ said.
Holzer’s target was Pueblo, Colorado’s Temple Emanuel, the state’s oldest synagogue, founded in 1900.
The FBI learned about his plan through his prolific online postings glorifying white supremacy and racial violence. According to the DOJ, they initiated an undercover operation.
“On the evening of Nov. 1, 2019, Holzer met with undercover agents, who provided Holzer with inert explosive devices that had been fabricated by the FBI, including two pipe bombs and 14 sticks of dynamite. Holzer removed a copy of ‘Mein Kampf’ from his bag and told the undercover agents that the explosives looked ‘absolutely gorgeous,’” the DOJ said.
According to the FBI, before planning the attack, he had frequently visited the synagogue to observe its congregants.
“Protecting our communities from terrorism, both domestic and international, is a top priority for the FBI. Mr. Holzer targeted a place of worship for violence and destruction to drive people of the Jewish faith from our community,” FBI agent Michael Schneider said after the sentencing.
On their website, Temple Emanuel published a statement thanking the FBI for their efforts in halting Holzer’s plot.
“Working together to prevent an alleged act of domestic terrorism, our first-responders and the good people of Pueblo triumphed.” the synagogue wrote. “We are safer and more united because of their efforts.”
Neo-Nazi gets 19 years for synagogue bombing plot