US federal authorities have arrested a New Jersey man and accused him of being behind a neo-Nazi ring that vandalized two synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin in September, local media reported.
Richard Tobin, 18, of Brooklawn, outside of Philadelphia, was accused last week of organizing those incidents, which he envisioned as part of a nationwide campaign he named “Operation Kristallnacht,” after the 1938 Nazi pogrom in Germany and Austria that most mark as the beginning of the Holocaust.
“If there’s a window that wants to be broken, don’t be shy,” he said, according to court documents filed last Tuesday and unsealed on Wednesday.
The affidavit says Tobin has confessed to planning many more attacks, and that on one occasion he went as far as sitting in a car at the parking lot of the Menlo Park Mall in Middlesex County with a machete, intending to go on a stabbing spree against black shoppers, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday.
“Tobin said that he was triggered by the state of the country, such as when he saw a Pride parade or a large number of African Americans in one location,” FBI Special Agent Jason D. Novick was cited as saying. “There were so many African Americans around [the mall] that enraged him.”
Authorities did not detail how they had linked Tobin to the vandalism incidents in Michigan and Wisconsin, more than 800 miles (1280 kilometers) from where he lives.
Feds: An 18-year-old New Jersey man named Richard Tobin ordered the vandalism of two synagogues on behalf of the neo-Nazi group The Base. https://t.co/hocGhLJuaN
— Nick Martin (@nickmartin) November 16, 2019
But they said that once he was arrested, he spoke freely of his involvement in The Base, an online forum for White Supremacist in which users regularly call for violent attacks, give instructions for carrying them out and recommend military-style training camps according to the reports.
Investigators were said to have found many such documents on Tobin’s computer, including graphic footage of Muslims murdered in this year’s mosque massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, set to Queen’s song “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Tobin reportedly told FBI investigators that carrying out a suicide bombing would be “pretty badass.”
On September 21, officials said swastikas were spray-painted on Temple Jacob in Hancock, Michigan, as well as the symbol of the SS, a Nazi paramilitary organization.
The next day, graffiti of the same symbols were found on the walls of Beth Israel Sinai Congregation in Racine, Wisconsin, alongside the word “Jude” — “Jew” in German.
Tobin’s co-conspirators who perpetrated those attacks have not been identified by authorities.
Neo-Nazi network The Base orchestrated synagogue attacks to coincide with anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Richard Tobin of New Jersey directed group’s members hundreds of miles away to deface synagogues in Michigan and Wisconsin https://t.co/aLVKqnN3Zs
— Anti-Fascism & Far Right ???? (@FFRAFAction) November 16, 2019
Temple Jacob’s president, David Holden, told The Philadelphia Inquirer: “We’re pleased with the work from the FBI for what they’ve done so far. I look forward to them arresting the co-conspirators.”
Referring to the description of Tobin’s racist views, he added: “You can’t read that and not be disturbed, but I guess this is where we are now.”
Tobin will remain in custody pending a psychiatric evaluation, a judge ruled in a Friday hearing.
A report released by the Anti-Defamation League last month showed record levels of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, with 780 known instances occurring in the first six months of 2019.
The ADL report also said that last year’s massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh set off a chain of similar plots against Jews, with 12 white supremacists and two Islamic extremists being arrested for plotting, threatening, or carrying out anti-Semitic attacks in the US over the last year.