Synagogue attack plot suspect Christopher Brown, who is accused alongside Jamil Hakime (not pictured). (Twitter) Twitter
Christopher Brown

The NYPD seized an illegal handgun, a 30-round magazine, and a large hunting knife.

By United with Israel Staff

On Saturday, New York police arrested two suspects and seized weapons related to a “developing threat to the Jewish community.”

The NYPD seized an illegal handgun, a 30-round magazine, and a large hunting knife. The arrests occurred at Penn Station in Manhattan, a bustling, central component of the metropolitan area’s transportation infrastructure.

Among the seized weapons was a swastika-adorned Nazi armband, an indication of neo-Nazi, antisemitic sentiments on the part of the suspects.

A statement released by the NYPD indicated that officers discovered the hunting knife on the suspects.

A subsequent investigation of one of the suspects after he was arrested resulted in the discovery of the additional weapons.

While the arrests were made early on Saturday, the threat was reportedly on the radar of the NYPD’s counter-terror unit and the FBI since Friday.

The arrested suspects are 21-year-old Long Island resident Christopher Brown, who was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, aggravated harassment, and making terrorist threat, and 22-year-old NYC-dweller Matthew Mahrer, who was hit with a criminal possession of a weapon charge.

Local media reported that Brown had made recent threats to synagogues.

“We’re extremely grateful to NYPD investigators and our law enforcement partners who uncovered and stopped a threat to our Jewish community,” said a statement from NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.

Evan Bernstein, the head of the Community Security Service (CSS), which serves the Jewish community in the tri-state area, said his organization had been in touch with the authorities about “a specific threat to the New York-area Jewish community.”

According to the CSS, its UK counterpart, the Community Security Trust, first identified the threat based on activity on Twitter, a hotbed of antisemitic hate and incitement.

From January to September 2022, the NYPD registered 195 antisemitic hate crimes in NYC, including violent assaults and verbal attacks.

In December 2019, a machete-wielding assailant stabbed and slashed five people at a Chanukah party in Monsey, New York, killing one victim.

“First he stood in the anteroom, hitting people right and left with a big machete knife,” witness Joseph Gluck told CNN at the time. “I grabbed the coffee table that was on the floor, hit him in his face, and that’s when he came back outside after me. He told me, ‘Hey you, I’ll get you!’ I was a few feet in front of him, I was screaming, ‘He’s coming, he’s coming!’.”

The perpetrator of that attack, Grafton E. Thomas, had expressed antisemitic views in his journals, referencing Adolf Hitler and the Black Hebrew Israelites hate group.

Earlier in 2019, attackers associated with the Black Hebrew Israelite philosophy perpetrated a shooting attack on a Jewish supermarket in New Jersey. That incident left six people dead.

The Black Hebrew Israelites accuse members of the Jewish community of being “fake” Jews, deny the Holocaust, and promote a variety of antisemitic conspiracies.

The group’s philosophy has been championed recently by celebrity Kanye West and NBA star Kyrie Irving, both of whom comedian Dave Chapelle defended during a controversial “Saturday Night Live” monologue that members of the Jewish community slammed as mainstreaming Jew-hatred and classic antisemitic tropes.

The suspects arrested in New York on Saturday, Brown and Mahrer, are white and do not appear to have any connection to the Black Hebrew Israelites.

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