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Rutgers Student Charged With Aiding Anti-semitic Firebombings in Bergen County

Aakash Dalal, 19, of Lodi Charged With Masterminding Attacks on Synagogues
Aakash Dalal and Ron Paul
Aakash Dalal is being held on $2.5M bail in Bergen County Jail. Here he is with Texas Congressman Ron Paul Facebook

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Bergen County authorities announced the arrest of a 19-year-old Rutgers student Friday.  He is the second man to be charged in connection with the firebombings of synagogues in Rutherford and Paramus, New Jersey.

Aakash Dalal, a freshman at the University, was arrested in New Brunswick on March 2.  His childhood friend Anthony Graziano was arrested in January and charged with the attacks

Although Dalal is not believed to have been present during the firebombings, he is accused of masterminding the attacks. Prosecutors say that he taught Graziano, also 19, how to make the molotov cocktails that were used.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said, "He [Dalal] was the instigator..... He had a direct and primary role providing encouragement to Mr. Graziano."

A transcript of text messages released by the prosecutor shows this exchange between Dalal and Graziano in January, following the first fire-bombing, which did little damage.

Dalal: Basically no damage. It did nothing. You haven't proven yourself.

Graziano: So how much damage would be acceptable?

Dalal: Serious damage. Or total burnage.

In the January 11 attack molotov cocktails were thrown into the rabbi’s residence at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford. A text message exchange indicates the synagogue was chosen because it was made of wood:

Graziano: I finally found an all wood synagogue. Congregation beth el Rutherford.

Dalal: Where is the all wood gog located?

Graziano: 185 Montross avenue, Rutherford, nj. Now I know why you want me to do this. Ultimate dedication.

Dalal: They're definitely watching.

Graziano: All wood, it's in a suburb area. I could easily throw the molotovs from the side.

Dalal: Make sure they break through the windows.

The New Jersey Jewish Standard reported that in coverage of Graziano’s arrest, an anonymous commenter accused Dalal, saying Graziano could not have planned the attacks himself:

“I have personally known anthony for a few years now. he is not mentally all there he needs help, he shouldn’t be serving his time in prison he should be placed in a psychiatric hospital. he has been influenced/taking under the wing by and individual named aakash dalal. this individual has put thoughts into his head that rich upper class people of the jewish community are going to take over the world. I believe that this individual made anthony commit these actions to aid in ‘the movement’ dalal is trying to create.”

The Jewish Standard reported forwarding this comment to the prosecutor's office. Dalal faces 9 charges ranging from bias intimidation, and aggravated arson, to criminal mischief, according to Patch.com.

The Associated Press recently revealed that harmless muslim organizations at Rutgers and other universities in the Northeast were under broad surveillance by the New York Police Department as recently as 2007.  Dalal was not a Muslim.

Dalal was described as agnostic, and was raised by Hindu parents.  NorthJersey.com reported that High School classmates of Dalal said he hated all religions and "American Government."

Dalal was detained by campus police on February 23 for using chalk to write messages in support of Congressman Ron Paul's campaign for President on the College Avenue campus, according to unelected.org, a website that lists "Aakash D." as a "Writer/Co-founder."  The article is unsigned and does not name the three students who were detained.

He entered a not guilty plea through an attorney at his arraignment on Monday. Dalal's Attorney Chris DiLorenzo said "It's my opinion that he's being prosecuted more for the use of malicious words than criminal behavior," DiLorenzo said of the charges.

"Malicious words aren't criminal acts."

Dalal's attorney told the Home News Tribune that his client was busy volunteering on Congressman Paul's campaign in New Hampshire at the time of the attacks.

According to the text messages released by Molinelli, Dalal's words appeared to have a profound impact on Graziano.

Dalal: It didn't burn well.

Graziano: Well it made the news.

Dalal: That was a joke. It was pathetic.

Graziano: The fire burned but I'm guessing the cold weather took it out.

Dalal: Basically no damage. It did nothing. You haven't proven yourself.

Graziano: So how much damage would be acceptable?

Dalal: Serious damage. Or total burnage.

The two come off as brazen in the messages from the days before Graziano was arrested.

Dalal: This just shows how pathetic the government is. They likely have 40+ people working on the case. And they can't figure anything out.

Graziano: They suck. I disposed of everything.

Dalal is being held on $2.5M bail in Bergen County.