The alleged mastermind behind the attacks on four area synagogues earlier this year was back in court today.
The charge: Attempted murder. He is accused of plotting to kill the assistant district attorney who is prosecuting his case.
He pleaded not guilty.
According to the Bergen County Prosecutors Office, Aakash Dalal, 20, had been due to be released from the Bergen County Jail this week, after posting bail of $1 million.
Bail originally had been set at $2.5 million but an appeals court lowered it last month, citing Dalal’s age, his lack of criminal record, and the fact that he did not flee after his first contact with police, before he was arrested.
Last month, however, the Federal Bureau of Investigation received information that Dalal was planning attacks on government facilities after his release.
While the FBI was not able to substantiate that information, investigators did find evidence that Dalal planned to get a handgun and kill Assistant Prosecutor Martin Delaney once he was out of jail.
On Wednesday, the FBI and the Major Crimes Unit from the prosecutor’s office searched Dalal’s jail cell. They found evidence related to the murder plot, including an “enemies’ list” that included Delaney, and evidence of Dalal’s “anti-government ideals and beliefs that violence against the government is necessary,” according to the prosecutor’s office.
Dalal was arrested again, charged this time with first degree conspiracy to commit murder, third degree conspiracy to possess a firearm for an unlawful purpose, and third degree terroristic threats.
His bail was raised to $4 million.
Dalal had been facing a possible prison sentence of more than 55 years for his role in orchestrating the attacks on the synagogues, particularly the firebombing of Congregation Beth El in Rutherford. Rabbi Nosson Schuman was slightly injured when a burning Molotov cocktail was thrown through his bedroom window.
“This demonstrates the extent of Dalal’s violent personality,” Etzion Neuer, acting director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New Jersey office, said.
“There’s much about his ideology that we simply don’t know but there’s something that we do know: He didn’t like Jews. Everything we’ve seen paints a very frightening portrait of someone who demonstrated not just the beliefs, but the willingness to act violently upon those beliefs.”
Last month, Dalal also was charged with third degree arson for attempting to burn down an Army Reserve Officers Training Corps building on the Rutgers campus in December. He allegedly placed burning newspapers under the building’s porch and into its mail slot.
Anthony Graziano, who is charged with attempted murder for carrying out the firebombing attack on Congregation Beth El in January, remains in jail on $2.5 million bail.