Two days after launching a multi-agency investigation incorporating local and federal authorities, Aventura police announced Saturday that a South Florida man suspected of making threats to an Aventura synagogue had been arrested.
Aventura police would not comment on the ongoing investigation, but issued a statement identifying the man as Nadim Benjamin Siddiqui, 35, from Hollywood.
The arrest was part of a “coordinated investigation” involving local agencies, the State Attorney’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI’s Miami bureau.
Sgt. Chris Goranitis, a spokesman for Aventura police, told the Miami Herald that Miami-Dade police made the arrest.
He was charged with criminal mischief, according to Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta.
Ths suspect “deliberately knocked down and damaged a menorah,” he said in a statement.
Law enforcement sources told the Miami Herald that Siddiqui is suspected of making threats to the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center and possibly other Jewish establishments. Calls to Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center were not returned Saturday.
His arrest was not terrorism related, sources said, but Siddiqui became a known nuisance in the area after a series of incidents many considered anti-Semitic, such the tipping over the menorah and repeatedly trespassing at a Jewish market.
Goranitis first alerted media to the investigation on Thursday.
“We want to inform the public that the [Aventura Police Department] is working closely with religious institutions and businesses in our City to advise them of the evolving circumstances,” he said in a statement then. “The Aventura Police Department is working with Local, State and Federal authorities in regards to how we can address the actions of Mr. Siddiqui.”
Siddiqui has been arrested at least three times by Aventura police in the last few weeks, records show.
On Oct. 14, Siddiqui walked into Kosher Kingdom, a grocery store at 3017 Aventura Blvd., took a bottle of wine valued at $27.99 and smashed it on the floor, according to the arrest report. After that incident, police issued him a trespassing warning.
On Oct. 28, he showed up again, police said. He was later arrested in a nearby shopping plaza. He was charged with criminal mischief for the Oct. 14 incident and charged with trespassing, records show.
He was arrested again on Nov. 5. This time, police say he walked into Kosher Kingdom Oct. 30, got a carton of eggs and then threw one at the window. He then dropped the rest of the eggs and the carton at the front entrance of the store, according to the arrest report. He was charged with criminal mischief, trespassing and littering.
A man who identified himself as the owner of Kosher Kingdom would not comment on the incidents Thursday. Calls made Saturday were not returned. However, Saturday is Shabbat and observant Jews do not use the phone.
The incident comes about six weeks after a man entered a Pittsburgh synagogue during Saturday morning services and shot and killed 11 people.