New Jersey Teenager Accused of Ordering The Vandalism of Synagogues Across The Country

A teenager from New Jersey who was "triggered by the state of the country" is accused of ordering the vandalism of synagogues across the U.S., authorities said.

Richard Tobin, 18, allegedly recruited people using a neo-Nazi social network called "The Base" to vandalize synagogues with spray paint hundreds of miles away from his home in Brooklawn, New Jersey, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Tobin allegedly used "The Base" to recruit the suspects who carried out attacks on synagogues in Hancock, Michigan, and Racine, Wisconsin, in September. According to The Inquirer, the two synagogues were vandalised with swastikas and other images between September 21 and 22.

He has only been linked to those two incidents, but FBI agents say Tobin confessed that he envisioned them to be part of a country-wide effort he branded "Operation Kristallnacht"—a reference to the night of November 1938, when synagogues and Jewish-owned stores and buildings were vandalized in Nazi Germany.

Court documents say Tobin also admitted to investigators that he had considered violence, including suicide attacks. He told the FBI during his interview that he thought carrying out a suicide bombing would be "pretty badass" and had considered "suicide-by-cop" a number of times, according to Insider.

And he once sat with a machete in the parking lot of the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey, contemplating attacking black shoppers, NJ.com reported. He wanted to "let loose" with the machete after becoming "enraged" by the number of black people around him, an FBI agent wrote in court documents.

"Tobin said he was triggered by the state of the country, such as when he saw a Pride parade or a large number of African Americans in one location," FBI Special Agent Jason D. Novick wrote in court documents, according to The Inquirer. "There were so many African Americans around [the mall] that enraged him."

Tobin has been charged with conspiring with a hate group against the rights of minorities, according to NJ.com. He was ordered by a magistrate judge to remain in custody until a detention hearing set for December.

According to NJ.com, the hate group describes itself as a "white protection league" and wants the country to be populated only by white people. Newsweek has contacted the FBI for comment.

News of the investigation into Tobin comes as it emerged that the FBI and the Justice Department are working to forcefully combat domestic terrorism and its underlying ideologies, including white nationalism and neo-Nazism, amid concerns of a possible surge in white nationalist violence ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The FBI has about 850 open investigations into domestic terrorism across the country, The New York Times reported last week.

synagogue protest
Stock photo: People protesting near the Tree of Life synagogue on October 30, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania following a shooting. A New Jersey teenager is accused of ordering the vandalism of synagogues across the U.S., authorities said. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images