An 18-year-old New Jersey man is behind bars after federal authorities say he ordered the vandalism of two Midwestern synagogues earlier this year, and plotted to commit other violent acts.
A federal complaint filed last Tuesday accuses Richard Tobin of Brooklawn, New Jersey, of directing members of a white nationalist group to attack the Jewish temples with swastikas and other anti-Semitics symbols, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The attacks happened in September and were part of a so-called “Operation Kristallnacht,” a reference to the 1938 massacre that saw dozens of synagogues across Nazi Germany go up in flames, as well as the vandalism of Jewish schools, homes and businesses.
An estimated 100 Jews were also killed.
According to court documents, Tobin, 18, also confessed to “obsessively plotting” other cruel acts against African-Americans. FBI officials say he went so far as to sit in the parking lot of Menlo Park Mall in Middlesex County with a machete, willing himself to “let loose” on Black shoppers.
“Mr. 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 wrote, adding that the sight “enraged” Tobin.
“For example, simply being in Times Square in New York caused Tobin to have these feelings,” he added.
South Jersey has seen a uptick in white nationalism, prompting federal law enforcement’s latest crackdown on the hate groups. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League showed 2018 was a “particularly active” year for extremist-related murders, the large majority of which were carried out by white supremacists.
Tobin, who federal officials said spoke openly about his involvement in the synagogue attacks, was involved in an online forum for like-minded bigots identified in court docs as “Group 1,” according to the Inquirer. Authorities said the group’s insignia is associated with a invitation-only neo-Nazi social media network called “The Base,” which was founded by a purported Iraq war veteran and self-proclaimed racist.
His goal? To unite white nationalists across the U.S. and encourage them to carry out violent crimes. And Tobin did just that, using the forum to direct comrades to “tag the sh-t” out of the Michigan and Wisconsin synagogues.
Court documents said a sweep of the young man’s computer uncovered his obsession with neo-Nazi propaganda and acts of mass violence. He told the FBI he once considered “suicide by cop” and thought carrying out a suicide bombing would be “pretty badass,” according to Insider.
Tobin remains in a New Jersey jail and is set to undergo a mental evaluation.