Teen Who Planned Synagogue Attack Sentenced to Write Book Report on Holocaust Hero

Written by Jeppe W

Dec.20 - 2023 1:04 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com

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A 13-year-old boy in Canton, Ohio, who admitted to planning an attack on a local synagogue, has been sentenced to probation and an unusual educational assignment: a book report on Carl Lutz, a Swiss diplomat known for saving thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

The boy, whose identity remains undisclosed due to his age, was arrested in September after his plot to attack Temple Israel was uncovered, according to BBC.

In family court, the teenager pleaded "true" to misdemeanor charges of inducing panic and disorderly conduct. Judge Jim James, overseeing the case, imposed a year of probation on the boy and ordered him to undergo counseling. Additionally, the judge mandated that the boy have no unsupervised internet access.

The authorities were alerted to the boy's plans by employees of Discord, a popular social media platform among gamers. Discord reported to the FBI that the boy had made threats and detailed plans to "burn down and shoot up the Temple Israel."

The information included plans and maps of the synagogue, which he possibly created with another individual from Washington state.

Following the tip-off, the FBI and local sheriff's deputies interviewed the boy on September 7. During the interview, he admitted to being part of "multiple antisemitic and political groups on Discord." Stark County Sheriff George Maier emphasized a zero-tolerance policy towards threats against the community.

Discord, reinforcing its stance against hate and violent extremism, reported the boy's activities to the FBI's National Threat Operations Center.

John Redgrave, Discord's vice president of trust and safety, stated that immediate action is taken when such content is detected on the platform.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish advocacy and anti-extremism group, expressed its horror at the allegations and viewed the incident as a potential "teachable moment." The ADL highlighted the need for zero tolerance towards hate and threats, whether online or in real life.

There were no indications of how advanced the boy's attack plan was or whether he had access to firearms.

His book report assignment on Carl Lutz, a diplomat who issued credentials to Jewish families in Nazi-occupied Budapest in 1944, is part of his rehabilitation process.

Lutz's actions saved up to 62,000 lives, but he faced reprimand upon returning to Switzerland post-war and remained largely unrecognized for years.

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