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Brother of suspect in Boston antisemitic arson attacks charged for obstructing probe

Former security guard at US embassy in Stockholm faces ‘decades in prison’ after allegedly obstructing investigation into now-deceased brother’s alleged 2019 hate crimes

A suspect in the fires at a Boston-area Chabad in May 2019 captured by a security camera (Chabad)
A suspect in the fires at a Boston-area Chabad in May 2019 captured by a security camera (Chabad)

AP — The brother of a man who was the prime suspect in four fires set at Jewish organizations and a Jewish-affiliated business in the Boston area in 2019 has been indicted on suspicion of obstructing the investigation, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Alexander Giannakakis, 35, formerly of Quincy, who provided security at the US embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, was arrested by Swedish authorities and is awaiting extradition proceedings, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office in Boston.

He faces charges of making false statements in a matter involving domestic terrorism; falsifying, concealing and covering up a material fact in a matter involving domestic terrorism by trick, scheme and device; concealing records in a federal investigation; tampering with documents and objects; and tampering with an official proceeding.

An email seeking comment was sent to his lawyer.

According to the grand jury indictment, Giannakakis’ now-deceased younger brother was the prime suspect in two fires at the Chabad Center in Arlington, one at the Chabad Center in Needham, and one at a Chelsea business, all set in May 2019.

Rabbi Avi Bukiet, whose family lives at the Arlington Chabad, in a statement Wednesday called the fires “a domestic terror attack fueled by antisemitic motivations.”

Rabbi Avi Burkiet shows the damage to his home, which also serves as a Chabad community center, after a fire on May 11, 2019 (Screen grab via Boston 25 News)

“While I sincerely hoped that the arsonist himself would be apprehended and brought to justice to answer for the crimes committed, unfortunately he did not give himself that opportunity,” he said. “It is with much relief that his brother has been apprehended and hopefully be extradited to the United States and face the law for his obstruction and tampering in this matter.”

Giannakakis’ younger brother, whose name federal authorities did not disclose, was hospitalized in a coma in November 2019 and died in September 2020 without ever awakening.

Investigators interviewed the suspect’s mother in January 2020, who confirmed her son’s antisemitic views and provided investigators with documents that included what appeared to be the cover page to a charter for a group that law enforcement believed consisted of people who might use violence against Jews, according to the indictment.

Giannakakis, after a trip home to the US in January 2020, took back to Sweden his brother’s cellphone, laptop, sketches, writings and mail, prosecutors said.

The FBI also searched the younger brother’s Quincy home in March 2020 and found antisemitic writing, authorities said.

When Giannakakis returned to the US in March 2020, be brought the items back and was questioned by investigators about any storage units the family might have. He told agents about one storage unit, but when asked about any other locations where his brother might have stored possessions, failed to tell them about a second unit, prosecutors said.

The second storage unit contained some of his brother’s possessions, including T-shirts with swastikas on the front, a notebook with his brother’s name on it and a swastika drawn inside, and a backpack containing a bottle of cyanide, which Giannakakis removed on March 22, 2020, before leaving for Sweden later that evening, prosecutors said.

He has not returned, prosecutors said.

He could face decades in prison if convicted of all charges.

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