Editor’s note (11/14/23): Since this story was published, a federal judge sentenced Alkattoul to 15 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
Federal prosecutors say a New Jersey man pleaded guilty in connection with sending a manifesto via social media that threatened to attack a synagogue and Jewish people – an act that prompted a statewide alert.
Omar Alkattoul, 19, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday “to an information charging him with one count of transmitting a threat in interstate and foreign commerce on or about Nov. 1, 2022,” according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.
“This defendant admitted using social media to send a manifesto containing a threat to attack a synagogue based on his hatred of Jews,” US Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said, according to the statement. “This prompted a state-wide alert and put the community on edge.”
The manifesto was part of a growing wave of antisemitic acts threatening Jewish people across the country.
Last year, antisemitic incidents in the US reached their highest level since the Anti-Defamation League started recording them in 1979, according to an ADL report published in March.
In May, President Joe Biden announced the first-ever national strategy to combat antisemitism.
Alkattoul allegedly used social media to send a link to a document titled “When Swords Collide” and told another person he authored the manifesto “in the context of an attack on Jews,” CNN previously reported via court documents.
At the time the statewide alert was issued, authorities were alarmed because the post was written as if an attack had already occurred, sources said. That factored significantly into the urgency of locating the suspect and also releasing the broad warning to the Jewish community, sources said.
“I am the attacker and I would like to introduce myself,” Alkattoul wrote, according to court documents.
Alkattoul, who was 18 at the time of his arrest last year, also wrote that he “did target a synagogue for a really good reason” and said “the motive of this attack is hatred towards Jews and their heinous acts,” according to court documents.
While no specific target, timing or plan for the attack was mentioned, the nature of the post created enough concern that the FBI issued a general warning out of an abundance of caution. The FBI in Newark tweeted on November 3 it had received “credible information of a broad threat to synagogues” in the state.
Alkattoul is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine, federal prosecutors said.