Arsonists could face federal charges for firebombing of Rutherford synagogue

| January 12, 2012

RUTHERFORD — The person — or persons — who threw Molotov cocktails through the windows of the Congregation Beth El synagogue Wednesday face a minimum of 40 years in prison, authorities said.

An FBI official said they have been involved for two weeks "in a support capacity" with the Bergen County Prosecutor's office investigation into the series of bias crimes at temples in North Jersey.

In December, synagogues in Maywood and Hackensack were vandalized. Last week, a Paramus temple suffered minor damage to its exterior from a fire investigators say was started using an accelerant.

Wednesday's attack, however — which is being investigated as both a bias crime and a murder attempt — brings a new level of gravity to the investigation.

"The way the law is written, we can't open a federal investigation on a hate-type crime until there's an act of violence," Special Agent Bryan L. Travers told Thursday. "So now that we have that, now we're going to be taking a look at it."

"We were working alongside Bergen County on this for the last two weeks," Travers said. "It's just that we can now have a federal investigation with federal charges."

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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