(JTA) — Miami police arrested a man twice who stood outside a Miami Beach synagogue and allegedly threatened the congregants.
Diego Chaar, who said he visited the Ohev Shalom Synagogue to convert its members, was arrested Sunday and faces charges of assault and stalking. He was released but was rearrested on Tuesday after returning to the synagogue, according to reports.
Chaar reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is greatest,” and told an Ohev Shalom congregant sitting in front of the synagogue on Saturday night at the end of Shabbat that “I will cut your head off.”
Police questioned Chaar on Sunday before releasing him.
It is not known if he also will be charged with a hate crime.
Chaar has served prison time for drug trafficking, and has been arrested previously for marijuana and cocaine possession.
Rabbi Pinchas Weberman, the Orthodox synagogue’s head rabbi for over 54 years and a chaplain for the Miami Beach Police and Miami-Dade Police, told a local television station that he remains concerned for his congregation’s safety. He said he wants the case investigated as a hate crime.
Chaar told Channel 7 in Miami that he converted to Islam in prison a few years ago.
“They can be as angry as they want,” he said. “I have freedom of speech.”