Would-be Miami synagogue bomber reportedly was Muslim convert
The South Florida man arrested for planning to bomb a Miami synagogue has been publicly identified and charged in federal court.
James Gonzalo Medina, 40, of Hollywood, appeared in court in Miami on Monday afternoon, several media outlets reported.
Medina, who according to court papers is a convert to Islam, was arrested on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in an attempt to blow up the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center during Friday night services, the last night of Passover. The Conservative synagogue has about 800 member families and houses an early childhood center, according to its website. Rabbi Jonathan Berkun, the synagogue’s spiritual leader, was raised in Pittsburgh.
Local 10 News reported that the criminal complaint also accuses Medina of planning to attack the synagogue on Yom Kippur. Medina told a confidential informant more than once that he planned to strike during Yom Kippur using AK-47 assault rifles, Local 10 said, citing the complaint. When the informant told Medina the attack might look as if it were orchestrated by the Islamic State, Medina expressed pleasure, believing it would “inspire other Muslims to attack as well.”
Asked by the FBI informant why he wanted to attack the synagogue, Medina said it was his “call of duty” and something he had to do “for the glory of Allah,” the complaint said, according to The Washington Post. Medina also told the informant he believed “Jewish people are the ones causing the world’s wars and conflicts.”
According to the Sun Sentinel, Medina tried to make a speech during his court appearance, but was stopped by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Turnoff after saying, “I’ve got a few words of my own. … My name is James Medina, aka James Mohammed.”
Prosecutor Marc Anton told the judge that Medina talked about “obtaining a bomb he could either place under a car or throw it over the wall.”
After the undercover informant provided Medina with what he said was an explosive device, the FBI arrested Medina on his way to the synagogue. The device was not real, authorities said.
Medina is being detained at the Federal Detention Center in Miami and will remain there until at least Thursday, the day of his arraignment and bond hearing.
If convicted, Medina faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison, according to the Sun Sentinel. He has not indicated whether he will plead innocent or guilty.
The synagogue and an affiliated school were operating as normal Monday.
Medina has several prior arrests, including one for sending violent threats via text message. He said in court that he is out of work, divorced and has no significant assets. He was provided a court-appointed lawyer.
David Blatt to interview with Sacramento Kings for head-coaching job
David Blatt, the Israeli American who was fired this season as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reportedly will interview with the Sacramento Kings for the same position.
The NBA team reportedly has interviewed several candidates with head coaching experience, ESPN reported Sunday in an article citing unnamed league sources who said Blatt would be interviewed early this week. The Kings recently fired George Karl after finishing 33-49 this season.
Blatt interviewed for the New York Knicks last month, though the team is said to be leaning toward interim coach Kurt Rambis, and also was considered by the Los Angeles Lakers before they hired Luke Walton last week.
Omri Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA, is coming off a strong season with the Kings. Casspi also played for Maccabi Tel Aviv, which Blatt coached to the 2014 Euroleague championship.
At the time of his firing in January, Blatt said he wanted to remain in the NBA, as opposed to returning to coaching in Israel and the European leagues, where he led Maccabi Tel Aviv to five national titles and the Euroleague crown. He also guided the Russian national team to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
At the time of his dismissal, the Cavaliers had the best record in the Eastern Conference. Some claimed the team’s superstar, LeBron James, undermined the coach. Blatt had led the Cavs to the 2015 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
Man stabbed in Jerusalem’s Old City
Israeli police are hunting for the attacker who stabbed a man in Jerusalem’s Old City, moderately injuring him.
The victim, believed to be in his 60s, was stabbed in the back near the Austrian Hospice in the Muslim Quarter, according to the Times of Israel. He reportedly was conscious and in stable condition at a nearby hospital.
A United Hatzalah medic who was one of the first responders said the victim was a student at the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in the Muslim Quarter.
According to the Times of Israel, the police found a knife at the scene and have deployed a large number of officers to find the attacker.
Meanwhile, a 16-year-old girl seriously injured in a Jerusalem bus bombing last month woke for the first time since the attack.
Eden Dadon came to Monday after nearly two weeks on life support at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem, according to the Times of Israel. Dadon suffered serious burns over her body.
The bombing on the No. 12 bus in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood injured 19 others and killed the bomber, a 19-year-old Palestinian.