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Ohio ISIS supporter who plotted synagogue attack sentenced to 20 years

Damon Joseph, 23, who officials say was self-radicalized, planned the attack in 2018 while communicating with undercover FBI agents.

An Ohio man who expressed support for the Islamic State terror group and said he wanted to attack a Toledo synagogue was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday.

Damon Joseph, 23, was arrested in 2018 after picking up what he thought were two semi-automatic rifles, the Justice Department said.

Joseph, who went by the name Abdullah Ali Yusuf, pleaded guilty in May to charges of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to commit a hate crime.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and will be under supervised release for the rest of his life, the Justice Department said Monday.

Officials said he was planning the attack for the Sabbath when more people would be present, and identified two synagogues as potential targets.

“In a matter of months, Damon Joseph progressed from a self-radicalized, virtual jihadist to planning an actual attack on fellow Americans,” Eric Smith, special agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland office, said in a statement. He called Joseph's actions "antithetical to a just and free society."

Attorneys listed as representing Joseph did not immediately return requests for comment Monday evening.

The FBI began investigating Joseph after he posted pictures online of guns, an image distributed by the media arm of the Islamic State group and a ring that had the same words as the group's flag, according to court documents.

Joseph later said he wanted to attack synagogues while actually communicating with undercover FBI agents, according to officials.

He said he wanted an AK-47 and an AR-15 and was arrested Dec. 7, 2018, after picking up a black bag with two rifles in it, the Justice Department said. Both guns had been altered and could not have fired, officials said.

The arrest happened a little more than a month after a gunman attacked the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people.

The alleged gunman in that case has been charged with 63 counts, including hate crime charges, and faces the possibility of life in prison without parole or the death penalty if convicted.