A South Florida man appeared before a federal judge in Miami on Monday to face charges for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction at a synagogue in Aventura, Florida, according to court documents.
James Medina, 40, of Hollywood, Florida was arrested on Friday as a result of an undercover operation after he tried to use an explosive that law enforcement had made inoperable.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation began watching Medina after he began expressing anti-Semitic views and a wish to attack a synagogue in conversation. They launched an investigation in late March.
Undercover agents learned that Medina wanted to leave some kind of “clue” at the scene of the attack so that it would be falsely attributed to the Islamic State militant group, according to the court complaint.
U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz identified the targeted synagogue in a statement, saying she was grateful that the suspect was arrested “before he was allegedly able to do harm to the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center and its congregants, so many of whom are my constituents, who were observing the end of Passover.”
A spokeswoman from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of Florida said there was a “national security related” arrest on Friday but there was no current threat to the public safety.