Aventura - Sunny Isles

New charges filed against attempted Aventura synagogue bomber

Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center
Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center Facebook

Additional charges were filed against a Hollywood man who tried to bomb an Aventura synagogue, federal officials announced Thursday.

James G. Medina, 40, was originally arrested by federal agents on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, 20400 NE 30th Ave., on April 29 during services. Medina now faces charges of knowingly attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against a person or property within the United States and attempting to damage religious property.

If convicted, Medina faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

FBI agents first began investigating Medina in late March 2016 when an FBI confidential source met with Medina and two of his associates to discuss the attack plan, according to an FBI affidavit. A few days later, in early April, Medina spoke about the timing of the assault with the source, who mistakenly mentioned Yom Kippur as a possible time to bomb the synagogue. The holiday, roughly two weeks after the conversation, was Passover.

Medina, however, said “... that’ll be a good day to go and bomb them,” according to the affidavit.

In the affidavit, the source said that Medina, who said he converted to Islam four years ago, expressed anti-Semitic views and mentioned the Aventura center specifically as his target. He later spoke to both the source and an undercover FBI agent about wanting to use an explosive device to attack the synagogue. He said he was “comfortable” with killing innocent women and children.

On April 29, Medina purchased the bomb — actually a dummy — from an FBI undercover operative in Hallandale Beach just before the planned terror attack. Federal agents arrested him as he got close to the synagogue.

“The leadership of our congregation has been briefed by law enforcement and Jewish community security officials about this situation,” Rabbi Jonathan Berkun and Executive Director Elliott Karp said in a statement released on the synagogue’s Facebook page after his arrest. “They assured us that the synagogue and school were never at risk at any time during the investigation and arrest, and that there are no credible threats directed against us at the present time.”

In 2012, Medina was accused of texting violent threats to a Coral Springs family and their church.

The case involving the synagogue is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marc Anton and Karen Gilbert and National Security Division Counterterrorism Section Trial Attorney Taryn Meeks.