Feds: Racine synagogue vandalism part of coordinated neo-Nazi plot

Yousef Omar Barasneh
Racine, WI - Federal prosecutors charged an Oak Creek man, who they believe is part of the neo-Nazi group, with carrying out vandalism at a Racine synagogue last fall.

Yousef Omar Barasneh is accused in the September 22 incident at Beth Israeli Sinai Congregation on Washington Avenue.

Officers found swastikas, the symbol for a group known to federal investigators as "The Base," and antisemitic words spray-painted outside the building, court records show.

"Just like random acts of love, this was unfortunately a random act of hate," Rabbi Martyn Adelberg said.

According to the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court, The Base is a neo-Nazi group that "aims to unify militant white supremacists around the globe and provide them with paramilitary training in preparation for a "race war."

The documents said Barasneh joined the group's Great Lakes cell in early 2019. The records also said recruitment flyers were posted at Marquette University in June 2019.

During the investigation, the records said, a member of the group admitted to FBI agents he ordered other members to vandalize minority-owned properties throughout the country. The man said called the mission "Operation Kristallnacht," and directed members to "tag the (expletive)" out of synagogues.

      

One day before the Racine incident, records show, police officers in Hancock, Michigan discovered Temple Jacob had been vandalized with graffiti similar to the synagogue in Wisconsin.

The member who cooperated with federal agents identified a man known as "Joseph" or "Josef" as the person who carried out the Racine vandalism.

Investigators eventually learned members of The Base were communicating through encrypted messaging applications. An undercover agent, the records show, gained access to the group's members-only chat room and found multiple messages from someone named "Joseph."

"Imagine if across the country on local news, everyone is reporting on new nazi presence," the documents said "Joseph" wrote in the chat room, "Our op will be a perfect (expletive) you to these (expletive) if we become terrorists."

The undercover agent met "Joseph" and about a dozens other members during a meeting of The Base in Silver Creek, Georgia in November 2019, which included firearms training, grappling, medical training and a pagan "blot" ritual to sacrifice a goat.

Investigators used license plate and images from the Georgia meeting to identify "Joseph" as Barasneh. They also used hotel records, which contained a phone number for Barasneh, to link him to the Racine vandalism investigation.

"The device with that number pinged approximately six times off the tower close to 3009 Washington Avenue," the Racine synagogues address.

Barasneh is accused of conspiracy against rights, which, according to the FBI website, carries a penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

Source: WISN