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Second arrest made in Bergen County synagogue arson cases

Prosecutors have arrested a second man on suspicion of involvement in a string of Bergen County synagogues fire bombings. He is being charged as a co-conspirator in the arson attacks which led to the first arrestee, a 19-year-old man, being charged with nine counts of attempted murder.

Other charges include bias intimidation, attempted aggravated arson, and having a destructive device for unlawful purposes.

The attacks on Jewish houses of worship took place in January. Police released a series of messages they claimed were sent between the two arrestees concerning the attacks. Prior to the arson attacks, there were a number of graffiti incidents at area synagogues, which investigators believe the arrestees may have also been involved in. The graffiti incidents occurred at Jewish synagogues in Maywood and Hackensack, and contained messages described as anti-Semitic.

The two arrestees reportedly have been friends since attending middle school together. Both reside in Lodi, New Jersey.

The first arson took place on Jan. 3 at a synagogue in Paramus and involved the flinging of a bottle of gasoline at a fire set at the building. That fire was put out relatively quickly before major damage could occur.

Approximately a week later, on Jan. 11, one or more Molotov cocktails was tossed at a Rutherford synagogue, where the congregation's rabbi, who lived above the temple, suffered burns on his hands while struggling to put out the blaze and protect his wife, children, and parents, also present at the time.

Prosecutors claim that a third arson attack on the Jewish Community Center of Paramus was called off because of enhanced police patrols in the area after the first arson attack.

Source: "N.J. man arrested in attacks on synagogues," March 2, 2012