Lone attackers or small, independent groups with no formal ties to wider terrorist networks have planned several plots against Jewish targets.
March 1, 1994 – Lebanese-born Rashid Baz opened fire on a van carrying 15 Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical seminary students on the Brooklyn Bridge, killing Ari Halberstam, 16, and injuring three others. Raz claimed he was upset by the killing of 29 Muslim worshipers in Hebron by an Israeli Jew, Baruch Goldstein, a few days earlier. Baz was convicted of second-degree murder and 14 counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 141 years in prison
March 20, 1994 – Members of the neo-Nazi Volksfront group fired 10 shots into a synagogue in Eugene, Ore., damaging its interior. Police said the attack on Temple Beth Israel was motivated by a newspaper article about several prominent members.
June 18, 1999 – White supremacists Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams set fire to three synagogues in the Sacramento area. The arson attacks caused more than $1 million in damage. The Williams brothers went on to kill a gay couple in Redding, Calif. Benjamin Williams commited suicide in prison in November 2002.
July 4 weekend, 1999 – White supremacist Benjamin Nathaniel Smith carried out a three-day, two-state shooting spree in the Chicago area, wounding six Orthodox Jews and several blacks and Asians. One black man and one Korean man were killed. Smith later committed suicide. Smith belonged to a white supremacist group, the World Church of the Creator, which espouses hatred against non-whites.
Aug. 10, 1999 – White supremacist Buford O. Furrow Jr. walked into the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, Calif., and fired 70 shots into the building, wounding five people, before fleeing. Furrow later killed a mail carrier. Furrow, a native of Washington state, considered targeting three Jewish institutions: the Skirball Cultural Center, the American Jewish University, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance. When security measures proved prohibitive, he drove to the San Fernando Valley with the stated purpose of “killing Jews,” police said.
July 4, 2002 – Egyptian immigrant Hesham Mohamed Hadeyet shot and killed two people at the El Al airline counter at Los Angeles International Airport. Police said the shooting was motivated by a mixture of the personal and the political; Hadeyet was suffering financial problems related to a struggling limousine business and worried about his aging parents, but he also opposed Israel’s occupation of west bank territory.
Oct. 25, 2002 – Five men, all Volksfront members, drove to Temple Beth Israel synagogue in Eugene, Ore. During a service with 80 worshippers, the men threw rocks etched with swastikas through the building’s stained-glass windows. They were later caught.
2005-2007 – Temple Beth Israel in Niagara Falls, N.Y., was targeted consistently by vandals who painted swastikas and urinated on the building. On Jan. 12, 2007, “Kill the Jews” was duct-taped to the building’s door. In August 2007, the perpetrator, Shawn Blount, was sentenced to one to three years in prison; his co-conspirator, a juvenile, was sentenced as a youthful offender to one year in Niagara County Jail.
Aug. 31, 2005 – Four men were charged with plotting a series of attacks on military and Jewish targets in Los Angeles. Kevin Lamar James had founded a group in prison called Jamiyyat Ul Islam Is Saheeh and preached to members that it was their duty to attack the U.S. government and supporters of Israel. Once released from prison, one of James’ followers, Levar Haley Washington, recruited Gregory Vernon Patterson and Hamad Riaz Samana to help him carry out the attacks. Washington and Patterson were arrested on suspicion of committing a series of gas station robberies and investigators then discovered evidence of a terrorist plot. The men had conducted research on a variety of Jewish targets, including El Al Airlines and the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles, and planned to carry out an attack on a synagogue on Yom Kippur in order to maximize casualties. Patterson, Washington, and James all pleaded guilty to terrorism conspiracy charges; the fourth defendant was declared mentally unfit to stand trial.
July 28, 2006 – Naveed Afzal Haq shot six women at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building, one fatally. Witnesses said Haq told them, “I’m a Muslim American, I’m angry at Israel.” One of the victims reported that Haq said “this was his personal statement against Jews and the Bush administration for giving money to Jews,” and for Jews “giving money to Israel.”
May 20, 2009 – Authorities arrested four men in connection with a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx, N.Y., and shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y. Law enforcement said the group had planned to use missiles to attack the planes and planted what they believed were car bombs outside the synagogues in the Riverdale section. During the course of the elaborate FBI sting operation, faulty explosives had been provided to the would-be terrorists. Police said the four, all of whom had a history of petty crime and are not believed to be tied to any major terrorist networks, frequently talked about their anti-Semitic leanings.