The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Suspect in N.J. Synagogue Arsons Apparently Planned Another Attack

By Bill Morlin on January 30, 2012 - 12:32 pm, Posted in Anti-Semitic

A Jewish community center in Paramus, N.J., apparently was a potential target of a 19-year-old New Jersey man arrested for two synagogue firebombings, authorities say.  In one of those bombings, a rabbi and eight members of his family narrowly awoke in time to escape their burning living quarters.

Anthony M. Graziano, who apparently acted as a “lone wolf,” was arrested last Monday, just three days after Bergen County authorities and the FBI released surveillance video and photos and posted a $7,500 reward.

Graziano’s arrest led authorities to search 70 other synagogues and Jewish community centers within 10 miles of the suspect’s home. As part of that expanded search, investigators found multiple Molotov cocktails and a bicycle in a wooded area near the Jewish Community Center of Paramus, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said at a Friday press conference.

Anthony GrazianoThe firebombs and a bicycle subsequently were tied to the suspect, who was positively identified, then arrested following public release of surveillance photos.

The photos, taken Jan. 9 at a Walmart in Saddle Brook, N.J., show a young man buying Crush Soda pop, low-grade motor oil, duct tape and hairspray – ingredients authorities determined where used in at least one of the firebombings.

On Jan. 1, a Molotov cocktail was hurled through a window at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford, N.J., igniting the second-floor bedroom of Rabbi Nosson Schuman. The rabbi, his wife, their five children and his parents were asleep at the time, and narrowly escaped.

That arson followed a similar attack on Jan. 3 at Congregation K’Hal Adath Jeshuran in Paramus. There, when members smelled gasoline, authorities discovered a small fire in the rear of the building that had been started with an accelerant but burned itself out before causing significant damage.

“The Jewish community in New Jersey was tremendously on edge, not only because the firebombs could have taken lives and destroyed synagogues, but also because around the same time there was also a rash of synagogue daubings with swastikas, white supremacist symbols, and claims that ‘Jews did 9/11.’” Ken Stern, the American Jewish Committee’s director of  anti-Semitism and extremism, told Hatewatch.

Graziano hasn’t been officially linked to anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed last month on a Hackensack synagogue  that read “Jews Did 9/11” and “14/88.” The latter is a white supremacist slogan for the “14 Words” legacy of the late racist David Lane, and “88” is the neo-Nazi numerical abbreviation for “Heil Hitler.”

“Fortunately, police, public officials and interreligious partners joined with Jewish communal groups to ensure that these cases had the highest priority,” Stern said.  “Additionally, there was an important community forum demonstrating that an attack on anyone’s house of worship was considered an attack on all houses of worship.”

Graziano was arraigned Wednesday on multiple felonies, including nine counts of attempted murder, bias intimidation, arson and aggravated arson. He was ordered held in jail under a $5 million bond. Graziano also is now charged with aggravated arson and bias intimidation for the planned attack on the community center.

“We have no doubt that the arson and attempted murder in Rutherford were a direct result of Mr. Graziano’s hatred of people of the Jewish faith,” Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

The news website nj.com reported that “multiple tipsters were integral to identifying Graziano, an unemployed 2010 graduate of Hasbrouck Heights High School, as the alleged perpetrator.” It’s not known if anyone is in line for the $7,500 reward.

After Graziano was arrested, investigators searched a home in Lodi, N.J., where he lives with his mother and siblings. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said evidence taken from Graziano’s room “wasn’t the only indication” of the suspect’s anti-Semitic views, but he wouldn’t elaborate, The Associated Press reported.

Authorities have not disclosed what was taken in the search of the suspect’s home or whether he has been linked to any white supremacist organizations.

  • Kiwiwriter

    MST, from what I’ve read in the news, this guy was a “lone wolf” anti-Semite.

    I guess he wanted to inspire like-minded lunar tunes to horrific acts. These types often claim that when caught.

    Ruslan, that was funny!

  • MST

    Any motive? At all?

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Don’t worry, Jason will be in here to tell us the suspect “looks Jewish” or was a brainwashed sleeper agent trained to commit hate crimes and make people think about the Holocaust.

  • IThink

    ^The most ironic thing in this case though, is by looking at his last name and physical appearance facially appears to be be Hispanic, or at the least at least bi-racial between a spanish-speaking ethnicity and some sort of European (like the Sheen/Estevez actors clan).
    At least this story proves, if nothing else, that hate does emanate both ways, from minorities as well as the status quo, and from all people if not condemned and exposed by observing third parties. Its sad we still have (so many) people with these motives and mentality around after electing our 1st black president, but that just goes to show how far we have to go to ‘post-racial’ America…I’m sure there’s a damning slew of white nationalist or other extremist material/associations to justify a lengthy and deserved jail sentence.

  • Kiwiwriter

    On a more serious note, I’m glad they got this guy. He seems like another result of White Nationalism…eventually they get frustrated by the failure of society to crumble and decides to “light a blaze that will be seen around the world,” as Hitler said of his last offensive in Hungary, by engaging in some acts that they think will lead to others being inspired to do the same, and give the actor the sense of martyrdom.

    Instead, it’s really just an act of despair, and he won’t get martyrdom. Just prison and nobody caring.

  • Kiwiwriter

    Woland was wrong? As Captain Renault said, “I’m shocked. Shocked to my foundation!”

    I guess he’s fulminating about this on VNN.

  • Reynardine

    Orange Crush blows up?… Thanks for warning us! Think of all the damage he could have done with Green River! Seriously though, nothing is going to stop the above-mentioned individuals from claiming it was an inside job. Do they believe it? No. They know they’re lying like Goebbels. It’s simply a time-honored tactic of people like that to break in on the opposition’s Stammtisch and (as they fondly imagine) bully them into silence. Expect the dreaded arrival shortly.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Thanks for the heads-up IThink ;)

  • Ithink

    ^Aron,

    Everytime wingnut trollies like Jason Smith and Woland make ANY sort of claims of minority crime and inside doing of hate incidents should be the time re-check one’s brain cell count as well as make sure they continue to run with the right bulb on, as ‘they’ would rather have you doing anything but seeing the Light!

  • http://www.twitter.com/AronL Aron

    But wait a second! Woland said the arson was likely an inside job!!! Does this mean I shouldn’t trust him? Whatever shall I do with myself???

    Hahaha!