FBI arrests two people planning separate Ohio terror plots
TOLEDO, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) Two people are facing terror charges in Ohio.
On Monday morning the FBI announced the arrests of a man and woman from the Toledo area.
The suspects were not related to each other and taken into custody in separate busts.
“Mr. Joseph expressed his admiration for the attack in Pittsburgh," said Justin Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. "He wanted to carry out something similar here in Toledo.”
Federal prosecutors said 21-year-old Damon Joseph was calculating a plan to strike two synagogues in northwest Ohio.
“He selected firearms, firearms that he handpicked because he believed that they would deliver the maximum amount of damage and destruction," said Herdman. "He made it very clear that his intention, his personal goal, was to kill a rabbi."
The second terrorist suspect arrested was 23-year-old Elizabeth Lecron.
"Lecron decided to acquire components for a pipe bomb, which she believed would be placed on a pipeline," said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge, Jeff Fortunato.
Police said Josheph and Lecron were not working together and that Lecron was planning to attack a Toledo bar.
"Lecron purchased two pounds of gun powder and over 600 screws, likely intended as shrapnel, with knowledge that these items would be used to construct the pipe bombs," said Fortunato.
Investigators were tipped off months ago after they say Lecron gushed on social media over mass murders.
They say she also had a fascination mass casualty events.
"These include the violent attacks at Columbine High School and the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina," said Fortunato.
The FBI said Lecron had corresponded multiple times with AME shooter Dylann Roof who is now sitting on death row in Indiana.
The FBI was also tipped off of months ago from Joseph's social media activity, where they say he showed his support for ISIS.
Just days ago investigators said he talked with an undercover agent about his plans to attack two Ohio synagogues.
"ISIS is very savy in terms of its online presence,"said Dr. Glen Duerr, an international studies professor at Cedarville University
He said that online reach includes, Twitter, Facebook and various media sites
"They give the ability of people in the United States an opportunity to contact them whether in Iraq or Syria or networks elsewhere in the world,” said Dr. Duerr.
Joseph and Lecron are now listed among many terror suspects from around the state.
James fields Jr. of Toledo rammed a car into a crowd in Charlottesville last year.
A similar attack at Ohio State occurred when Abdul Artan drove into a crowd injuring 13 people.
This past summer, Demetrius Nathanial Pitts was accused of planning an attack in Cleveland. That case is similar to Christopher Lee Cornell of Cincinnati who was convicted of planning an attack in the U.S. Capitol.
Just last week Laith Alebbini of Dayton was convicted of attempting to join ISIS.
Dr. Duerr said the profile of people suspected of plotting attacks varies, so everyone must remain hyper vigilant.
“I think of Christopher Cornell, a young caucasian man from the Cincinnati area who was caught by the FBI, his plan was to blow up various sites in Washington D.C.," said Dr. Duerr. "If we think too about the Minnesota attack on the Mall of America it was by a Somali-American who was likewise was from a Somali background but that’s not always the case, it’s sometimes a recruit."
If convicted, both Joseph and Lecron face several years in prison.