Back in January there was a string of attempted firebombings of temples in North Jersey which were largely ignored by the media. Then one suspect was arrested and the story disappeared. Well, today the “brains” behind the attacks was revealed.
Nineteen year old Aakash Dalal was the brains behind a string of attacks that terrorized the Bergen County Jewish community between December and January, police alleged on Friday.
Aakash Dalal, a Lodi resident and student at Rutgers University, is the second man arrested in connection to the attacks, which began as petty vandalism and took a violent turn with the firebombing of two synogogues last month.
Another 19-year-old Lodi man, Anthony M. Graziano, is accused of wielding the Molotov cocktails that were thrown into the window of the Congregation Beth El temple in Rutherford. But police say Dalal, Graziano’s childhood friend, was behind the scenes, prodding him along.
But don’t worry, folks. Dalal isn’t a radical Muslim, or so we’re told.
Dalal, whose academic status at Rutgers is unclear, was described as a religious agnostic. It remains unclear where he and Graziano allegedly developed anti-Semitic views. The two were not members of any known hate groups, Molinelli said.
In the alleged exchanges, the two discuss the media coverage of the attacks, fueled by the attention but disappointed with the outcome of the Paramus attack. On Jan. 8, Graziano allegedly told Dalal that he “finally found an all wood synagogue.”
It was the Congregation Beth El temple in Rutherford, where authorities allege Graziano flung Molotov cocktails into the windows of the upstairs residence while Rabbi Nosson Schuman and his family slept on Jan. 11.
“In hindsight, it makes sense that they are two [suspects],” Schuman told The Record Friday. “The person they caught today is more the mastermind behind the attacks, and Graziano is the pawn carrying out the attacks.”
Molinelli said the two also mocked law enforcement. In one of the exchanges released Friday, Dalal allegedly tells Graziano, “Molinelli is going to lose his [expletive] job.”
Dalal supposedly belongs to a group at Rutgers named the Rutgers Young Americans for Liberty.
Federal investigators said they were aware that Dalal is part of a college student activist group called Rutgers Young Americans for Liberty, but one federal official stressed that the group is in no way tied to the alleged acts.
“As we stand here today, we don’t have any reason to believe that they are part of any organized group, and we don’t have any reason to believe any student group was in any way linked to the attacks,” said Doug Veivia, the supervisory special agent of New Jersey’s FBI, which assisted in the investigation. “It’s an evolving case, but at this point, we feel pretty strong about it.”