Damon Joseph, a 24-year-old resident of Holland, Ohio, was sentenced Monday to twenty years in prison for a plot to attack a synagogue in Toledo. Joseph is a white man, but he is, no doubt to the disappointment of Biden administration officials, not one of those white supremacist terrorists they keep insisting are the greatest terror threats the nation faces today. Joseph, you see, is a convert to Islam who prefers to be known by the name of Abdullah Ali Yusuf. That is one reason why you almost certainly haven’t heard anything about this case.
According to NBC 24, the newly minted Abdullah Ali Yusuf “was arrested by FBI agents in December 2018 before pleading guilty in May 2021 to attempting to provide material support for the Islamic State terrorist group and attempting to commit a hate crime.” This was not an instance of some loser making incendiary statements without any intention to act: According to , he was arrested “after he grabbed a duffel bag with two disabled semi-automatic rifles from the car of an undercover agent. Following his arrest, he detailed his plans for the attack and ‘his intent to cause mass casualties in support of ISIS,’ according to an affidavit written in December by FBI agent J. Troy Amundson.”
The zealous young convert “shared photographs of guns and knives on social media, as well as pictures originally distributed by ISIS’s media arm.” He also applauded the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, declaring: “My opinion is the Jews are evil and they get what’s coming to them. I don’t feel bad at all considering what they’re doing in Palestine.” Cleveland.com added that Yusuf “said he admired the shooter and said he could see himself carrying out a similar attack, because authorities in Northwest Ohio ‘wouldn’t even expect it.’”
He was likely right about that, because all the attention of law enforcement officials regarding antisemitism is focused on “white supremacists,” “right-wing extremists,” and neo-Nazis. Islamic antisemitism goes unnoticed not only among law enforcement officials, but largely in Jewish communities as well. Yet it continues to proliferate in the U.S. and Western Europe; good thing authorities in Northwest Ohio got lucky this time.
Yusuf was hoping to maximize his casualties: He “narrowed the target of his attack down to two area synagogues and said he would choose based on the number of people, the time and day.” Or as he himself put it, “Go big or go home.”
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There is no indication that either the feds or Ohio authorities have shown any interest in where Damon Joseph/Abdullah Ali Yusuf got these ideas. There’s no indication either that he hated Jews, thought they were evil, or plotted massacres at synagogues until he converted to Islam. After he converted, he may have noticed, in perusing his new holy book, that the Jews in the Qur’an are called the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); they fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); they claim that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); they love to listen to lies (5:41); they disobey Allah and never observe his commands (5:13). They are disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more. They are under Allah’s curse (9:30), and Muslims should wage war against them and subjugate them under Islamic hegemony (9:29).
American law enforcement and intelligence officials are hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with those who imbibe these words and decide to act upon them, because they have no idea that such things are even taught. In a sane world, authorities would be investigating the people who converted Damon Joseph to Islam, and studying what is taught at the mosque he attended. In our world, it is a dogma never to be questioned that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance that has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, and any suggestion to the contrary is unacceptable “Islamophobia.” And so, while authorities continue to hunt for “white supremacists,” one thing is certain: There will be many more Damon Josephs.