A Florida man who plotted to bomb a synagogue and Jewish school in Florida over Passover looks set to spend 25 years behind bars following a judge’s ruling.
James Medina, 41, pleaded guilty to a religious hate crime and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Although this turned out to be a fake bomb provided by an FBI informant, his plan had been to blow up the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Centre in Miami in 2016.
According to the FBI, the Muslim convert initially envisioned using AK-47-style weapons at the synagogue, which has about 800 families as members.
Conversations about the plot were recorded by the unnamed informant, including one where Medina claimed allegiance to Islamic State and said he had an obligation to attack Jews in America.
Representing Medina, Hector Dopico argued that his client had suffered from serious mental illness, as well as brain damage following a car accident ten years ago.
In brief remarks to the judge, Medina said he needed help for his mental state and added: “I lost my mind. I lashed out.”
Though he could have received a life sentence, Medina has now been hospitalised in federal custody after both sides reached an agreement that was accepted by US District Judge Robert Scola.
Under the terms of the agreement, Medina will be required to return to court once his treatment is complete. A life term could still be imposed, though the judge indicated that it would probably be for 25 years.
“This is a very, very serious offense. There has to be a significant sentence,” he said.
In one of the recordings Medina can be heard saying: “It's a war, man, and it's like, it's time to strike back here in America.
“When I am doing this, I feel that I'm doing it for a good cause for Allah.”