A second New Jersey man was convicted of terrorism charges Tuesday for vandalizing and firebombing Jewish shuls and a Rabbi’s home.
Aakash Dalal, 24, of Lodi, was also convicted of attempted arson and bias intimidation in the 2012 attacks. He faces up to life in prison at his December sentencing.
The attack in Rutherford ignited a fire in the bedroom of a Rabbi’s residence. The Rabbi, his wife, five children and his parents were sleeping at the time. No one was injured.
The case was the first to employ the state’s anti-terrorism law, which took effect a few months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The law requires a finding that five or more people were terrorized by the crime or that the acts were carried out to promote terror.
Defense attorney Brian Neary said Dalal plans an appeal to challenge whether the terrorism law was properly used.
“The statute itself might be unconstitutional,” Neary said. These crimes “don’t put an entire population at the same level of fear as the World Trade Center” attacks.
Dalal’s friend, Anthony Graziano, also awaits sentencing after being convicted of terrorism charges earlier this year.
The two men were charged with spray-painting anti-Semitic messages at temples in Maywood and Hackensack in December 2011. The incidents soon escalated, authorities said, with a failed attempt to start a fire at a temple in Paramus in January 2012. Authorities said Graziano also planned to firebomb a Jewish Community Center in Paramus a few days later, but aborted his plans when a police car drove by.
The Rabbi’s home was firebombed four days later.