KEY POINTS

  • A self-professed white supremacist wanted to start a racial holy war
  • The defendant plotted an attack on a synagogue listed as a historic landmark
  • Law enforcement officials caught wind of the plot through social media

Federal authorities in Colorado announced a 28-year-old white supremacist man plotted an attack on a synagogue with the intent of starting a racial holy war.

The US attorney’s office in Colorado announced Richard Holzer pleaded guilty to a plot to blow up the Temple Emmanuel Synagogue in Pueblo, Colo. Holzer, who identifies as a white supremacist and neo-Nazi, told undercover FBI agents he wanted to commit an attack in November on the Jewish people, adding he was “getting ready for RAHOWA,” an abbreviated form of racial holy war.

“The defendant attempted to bomb the Temple Emanuel Synagogue to drive people of Jewish faith out of his community,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

The Colorado public defender’s office, which would represent Holzer, does not comment on open cases. Holzer caught the attention of the FBI after posting hate messages on social media. Law enforcement officials posed as like-minded individuals during the investigation. He was arrested after acquiring inert explosives from federal agents in November, one day before he planned to carry out his attack.

Reporting on the story, The Denver Post noted the plot has raised alarms among the area Jewish community given the recent increase in anti-Semitism. Data from the Anti-Defamation League finds crimes against the Jewish community accounted for about 11% of all hate crimes in 2018, the last full year for which data are available. The number of anti-Jewish crimes that year, 835, was up 25% from levels in 2015.

Holzer faces up to 40 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine. The Pueblo synagogue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.