WASHINGTON, DC–A Florida man was charged Saturday with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction – an explosive device – at a synagogue in Aventura, Florida.
The arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which James Gonzalo Medina, 40, was closely monitored by the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The explosive device that he allegedly sought and attempted to use had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public.
According to allegations contained in the complaint, in March 2016, Medina came to the attention of the FBI due to his conversations about attacking a synagogue in South Florida. The FBI was able to gauge Medina’s interest in the plot and collect evidence through the use of a confidential human source. Medina expressed anti-Semitic views and identified to the confidential human source the target of his attack, a Jewish synagogue in Aventura.
The complaint further alleges that Medina wanted to use an explosive device to commit the attack and engaged the confidential human source and an undercover FBI employee about the details of his planned criminal conduct. In preparation for the proposed attack, Medina studied the synagogue property to assess its vulnerabilities.
On April 29, Medina took possession of an inert explosive device and was arrested while approaching the synagogue. Medina was under FBI surveillance and, once the FBI became involved, it worked to effectively mitigate any danger posed to the public.