RUTHERFORD, NJ (CBSNewYork) — Authorities announced the arrest of a second suspect Friday in connection with a series of synagogue firebombings in New Jersey.
Prosecutors in Bergen County said Aakas Dalal, 19, was arrested for his role in anti-Semitic crimes earlier this year. Dalal, who attended Rutgers University, is described as a friend of another suspect, 19-year-old Anthony Graziano, of Lodi. Graziano has already been charged.
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The firebombings occurred at the Temple Beth-El in Rutherford on Jan. 11 and at a synagogue in Paramus on Jan. 3.
While Graziano is accused of actually hurling the device through the window and onto the bed of Rabbi Nosson Schuman in the Rutherford attack, Prosecutor John Molinelli said “Mr. Dalal was the teacher” and “Mr. Graziano was the student.”
“It was Mr. Dalal that directed in how to make it, how often to throw it, how to throw it in a way that it would cause the most damage,” Molinelli said.”Mr. Dalal was actually the instigator of these incidents, advised Mr. Graziano where on the Internet he could find out how to make a Molotov cocktail.”
“It’s a little unnerving to be honest,” Rutgers student Betsy Harvey told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.
Once investigators saw someone pointed to Dalal in the comments section of an article on the Graziano arrest, they traced instant messages and texts between the two.
One of the messages was allegedly Graziano telling Dalal before the firebombing “I finally found an all-wood synagogue. Congregation Beth-El in Rutherford.”
After the firebombing, Dalal allegedly wrote “Wow. Nice. I’m looking at the house how.” And then as they are allegedly watching the news in the aftermath of the attacks, Graziano allegedly said “Dude, the ADL Jew is hilarious. He looks like he’s about to roll over and cry.”
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Schuman barely got his family out alive in the Rutherford attack.
“He did impact my private life — it’s been much harder to sleep and we live with a little bit of fear. Now that this other person has been caught, it’s very satisfying,” Schuman told CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.
Mollinelli said both teens are also responsible for two anti-Semitic graffiti incidents at temples in Hackenasck and Maywood in December.
Graziano has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of first-degree attempted murder, bias intimidation and aggravated arson.
Authorities said he was also seen on surveillance video buying materials to make a bomb. Mollinelli said Graziano was also trying to acquire a gun.
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