Man accused in firebombing of NJ synagogue goes on trial


(JTA) — Jury selection began in the trial of a 24-year-old man who is accused of vandalizing and firebombing northern New Jersey synagogues and a rabbi’s home.

Akashi Dalal of New Brunswick is charged with 30 counts of bias intimidation, conspiracy to commit arson on a synagogue and aggravated arson, as well as attempted murder and terrorism charges. He was indicted in 2013 with his friend and co-conspirator Anthony Graziano; both pleaded not guilty.

In May, Graziano was found guilty of terrorism and faces life in prison. He is awaiting sentencing.

Dalal is accused of spray-painting anti-Semitic messages outside of two Bergen County synagogues in December 2011, and firebombing a third in January 2012. The firebombing on Congregation Beth El in Rutherford injured Rabbi Nosson Schuman, who lived with his family in the synagogue residence. Molotov cocktails thrown at the synagogue set fire to the bedroom of the rabbi’s family.

An alleged plan to firebomb the Jewish Community Center of Paramus was abandoned when a police car drove by as Dalal was preparing to strike.

Dalal also is charged in a separate indictment with conspiracy to murder Martin Delaney, the assistant Bergen County prosecutor who oversaw the arson investigation. The trial is expected to last five weeks.

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