Aakash Dalal and Anthony Graziano, two men from Lodi, New Jersey, have been jailed for 35 years under anti-terrorism laws for conducting attacks on Synagogues in the state and running a campaign of intimidation against the Jewish community.
Both men were given identical sentences: 32 years for terrorism, and two 18 month sentences for bias intimidation.
The pair were found guilty of committing a string of attacks in 2011 and 2012, including attempting to burn down Synagogues in Paramus and Rutherford, and attacking the home of the Rabbi in Rutherford, injuring and emotionally scarring the Rabbi’s family. They were also responsible for antisemitic graffiti, demonstrating the importance of apprehending those responsible for incidents which are often written off as unimportant.
Brian Sinclair, prosecutor for Bergen County, said that “they saw the world with the same set of eyes. They saw Jewish people not as people but as subhuman and like reptiles”, commenting on the significance of sentencing the accomplices together when they had been found guilty several months apart from one another.
The pair were sentenced at a courtroom in Hackensack, with the hearing being moved to a larger setting to accommodate a multitude of observers, including many members of the Jewish community who turned out to see justice be carried out.
Commenting on the sentence, former wife of the Rabbi whose house was attacked in a firebombing which caused her and members of her family to suffer burns, Pess Schuman, stated “Never again in America, never again anywhere…our people came to America because America allows them to practice their religion and to not be afraid”.
Graziano, whose counsel argued during his trial that he had been unduly influenced in his actions by Dalal, who he claims was more sophisticated, expressed his regret at his actions, stating that he wants “a second chance to live a law-abiding life”. However, Schuman, who says she is still haunted by her memories of her burning home, and her family, will hopefully be brought some solace by the sentence.
Rabbi Arthur Weiner, Rabbi at Paramus, has said that the terror spree had a severe impact on his community, remarking that it was lucky that nobody was killed.