Officials: FBI thwarts plot against Fla. Jewish center
Miami — The FBI has thwarted a plot to detonate an explosive device at a South Florida Jewish center and arrested one man on federal charges, authorities said Monday.
The suspect is identified in court records as James Medina, 40, who was arrested Friday. Medina is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and was scheduled to make his initial court appearance Monday afternoon in Miami. Court records did not yet list an attorney to speak for him.
Spokeswoman Sarah Schall of the Miami U.S. attorney’s office would say only that a “national security-related” arrest was made and that there is no current public safety threat stemming from the purported plot. Details were expected to be unsealed later in the day.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., identified the intended target as the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, which has a synagogue, school and meeting halls. Wasserman Schultz, who represents many of its 800 congregant families, suggested that Medina may have been motivated by anti-Jewish bias.
“This attempted attack is a harsh reminder that there are many in our community who are motivated by bigotry and violence,” she said in an email statement. “As a community and a nation we must work together to confront this kind of hatred.”
The Aventura center’s Rabbi Jonathan Berkun and Executive Director Elliott Karp released a statement on the center’s Facebook page saying the FBI stepped in before any harm could be done. Berkun and Karp said they had been briefed on the case by law enforcement officials.
“They assured us that the synagogue and school were never at risk at any time during the investigation and arrest, and that there are no credible threats directed against us at the present time,” their statement said.