DENVER (CN) – “Let’s get that place off that map,” federal prosecutors say suspected domestic terrorist Richard Holzer told undercover FBI agents he was planning to do to a local synagogue.
On Nov. 1, Holzer accepted what believed to be two pipe bombs and bundles of dynamite from undercover federal agents. He was arrested that night and appeared before a judge Monday in the Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse in downtown Denver.
“We are here today to announce federal law enforcement working in conjunction with the Pueblo Police Department has successfully stopped what we believed to be an imminent threat of domestic terrorism against a Colorado religious institution,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn at a press conference Monday after Holzer’s first court appearance.
For more than a month, Holzer discussed his plan to target Temple Emanuel, a small synagogue in Pueblo listed on the National Register of Historic Places that serves 30 families.
Authorities accuse the 27-year-old of attempting “to obstruct persons in their enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs, through force and the attempted use of explosives and fire.”
According to the 11-page affidavit by FBI special agent John Smith, an undercover agent portrayed as a white female first contacted Holzer through Facebook on Sept. 28.
Denver Special Agent in Charge, Dean Phillips explained the FBI initially responded to a tip of “online comments of concern indicating a possible threat to the community of Pueblo, Colorado.”
According to the affidavit, Holzer told the agent he used to be in the Ku Klux Klan and is now a skinhead. In addition to sending buttons showing white supremacist symbols, Holzer sent her videos of his weapons, of himself urinating on the door of a Jewish center and bragging about killing pedophiles.
He told the undercover agent he paid $70 to a cook nicknamed the Mexican Hitler to hex a local synagogue and that last Halloween, the cook “put arsenic in the water pipes of the synagogue,” the affidavit says.
This Halloween, however, Holzer planned something even bigger, investigators say.
On Oct. 17, three undercover agents met Holzer and his friend Skeeter at a restaurant in Colorado Springs. Holzer brought “white supremacy paraphernalia as gifts for the UCs [undercover agents], including a flag, several patches, a metal Thor’s hammer, and a mask,” the affidavit says.
He told the agents about his dedication to RAHOWA – a Racial Holy War – he is engaged in based on the teachings of Matt Hale, according to investigators.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports Hale ran one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in America until his arrest in 2005, after which his followers broke up into many splinter cells. “Rahowa” is one of the group’s battle cries.
On Nov. 1, undercover agents brought Holzer two pipe bombs and two bundles of dynamite filled with harmless black powder. Holzer called the weapons “absolutely gorgeous” and thanked the agents “for your utmost effort. Like, this is a move for our race,” the affidavit says.
After his arrest, Holzer waived his Miranda rights and told agents “he had been planning to blow up a synagogue that night with the pipe bombs and dynamite in the motel room. He referred to the plan as ‘my mountain’ and to Jews and the synagogue as a ‘cancer’ to the community,’” the affidavit says.
U.S. Attorney Julia Martinez is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen Mix presided over Monday’s hearing.
With the “imminent threat off the street,” Phillips said, “Mr. Holzer can now explain his actions to our legal system.”
If convicted, Holzer faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.