FBI thwarts Islamic attack on Florida synagogue

Federal agents arrested a man who, sources said, was planning to throw an explosive device into the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center on Friday evening.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center

Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. (Screenshot)

The FBI was successful in thwarting an Islamic terror attack on a synagogue in Aventura, Florida, which was planned to take place over the Passover holiday, when the synagogue was packed with Jewish worshippers.

The local 7News reported on Monday that federal agents arrested a man who, sources said, was planning to throw an explosive device into the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center on Friday evening.

7News quoted law enforcement sources which descried how the FBI set up a sting operation to thwart a terror attack. FBI agents posing as terrorists were able to stop the suspect, who, they said, may have converted to Islam.

Concerned local residents told 7News they were disturbed by the arrest.

“I think about, before we had a baby, that we used to go there for services, and God forbid, it could have been us,” said Stephanie Levine. “Thank God they stopped him, but had they not, it would have been such a horrible thing to happen to this neighborhood.”

“Of course it surprised me,” said resident Richard Levinson. “Everybody says, ‘I live in a small town. It doesn’t happen here,’ but the sad part is, it happens everywhere.”

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Resident Kim Tepper told 7News she’s horrified by the turn of events but ultimately not that surprised. “It’s a very scary world, and you know what? I don’t think that anybody is safe anywhere,” she said. ‘We’d always thought, living in this area, that we could be targeted, so now you’re kind of confirming that for me. Not happy.”

FBI officials declined to comment on the investigation, but 7News has learned the suspect will appear in federal court early this week.

In a statement, the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center said that the congregation’s leadership has been briefed by law enforcement and Jewish community security officials about the situation. “They assured us that the synagogue and school were never at risk at any time during the investigation and arrest, and that there are no credible threats directed against us at the present time.”

The statement said the center’s security protocols are well in place, and that it will continue to review the procedures in consultation with their security consultant and law enforcement officials to “take whatever measures are necessary to insure the safety and security” of the synagogue and its members.

“We are extremely grateful to our partners in law enforcement for their professionalism, care and commitment throughout this incident, and for providing us with security all year-round. We greatly appreciate your concern as well,” the statement said.

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The Jewish center’s activities are carrying on as usual.

The FBI is pursuing 900 active Islamic State (ISIS) terror-related investigations, spread over all 50 states in the US, FBI Director James Comey stated last November.

The growing threat of ISIS terrorism in the US has surpassed that of al-Qaeda, Comey warned in July, as US security agencies continue to track down individuals influenced by ISIS who may be planning to act on their radical ideology.