Florida Teen Christopher Raymond Joseph Nabbed in Probe of New Jersey Synagogue Threats

A Florida college student was arrested Thursday for allegedly trying to conceal online chats he had with a New Jersey man who is facing federal charges for allegedly plotted a series of synagogue attacks.

Christopher Raymond Joseph, an 18-year-old student at the University of South Florida (USF), now faces one count of altering or destroying records in a federal investigation. Regarding his apparent online character, Joseph told the FBI that he was just “LARPing” or “playing live action,” as a terrorist, according to a criminal complaint that was not disclosed on Thursday and was first obtained by The Daily Beast.

But the charges against him are very real, and could put Joseph – who federally says has gun rights – in jail until he’s nearing 40.

Joseph’s troubles stemmed from an interview with the FBI in November, in which agents said they saw him delete messages he exchanged on his phone. with Omar Alkattoul, also 18, who was arrested last month on suspicion of planning an attack in his own state. During their online chats, Alkattoul told Joseph that he had been in contact with members of Al Qaeda and discussed potential attacks on a gay synagogue or club, according to the petition.

Joseph’s court-appointed attorney, Adrian Burden, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. A spokesperson for the University of South Florida declined to comment. Joseph’s father, Raymond, did not return voicemail Thursday afternoon seeking comment.

Joseph appeared on the FBI’s radar after Alkattoul’s arrest in November, when investigators searched Alkattoul’s phone for evidence. On it, the complaint says that agents found an October 29 message “through an encrypted messaging app” addressed to Joseph, who was listed in Alkattoul’s contacts as “CJ.”

After Alkattoul was captured, His father told The Daily Beast that his son was “talk to bad people on the internet.”

The complaint does not specify how Alkattoul and Joseph first connected online or whether they ever met in person. But it said that when agents interviewed Alkattoul, he said he knew “CJ” lived in Florida because he was “out of school for a week” after Hurricane Ian. He added that Joseph, whose mother is Syrian, was “‘LARP-ing’ as an ISIS supporter or al Qaeda (AQ) sympathizer.”

According to the complaint, FBI agents submitted online subpoenas and phone records to identify and locate “CJ,” and on November 5, they went to USF to question Joseph.

There, Joseph asserted that he was only pretending to be an ISIS supporter and that he had no real intention to commit an act of terrorism. Joseph told agents that he used an unidentified social media platform among many others to “LARPing and/or talk about racist things” and that he was “following pro-ISIS channels and he watches videos that encourage others to join ISIS,” the complaint states.

During the 42-minute conversation, Joseph also “voluntarily agreed to bring agents to his dorm room to view the contents of his phone” but an agent is said to have seen Joseph surreptitiously deleted one of many large blocks of online conversation between himself and Alkattoul—which is what Joseph eventually got into.

According to sources, the messages Joseph deleted — which the FBI copied when they seized Alkattoul’s phone — included Alkattoul discussing how to get guns and ammo.

Joseph later terminated the interview voluntarily when one of the agents confronted him with a message referring to “an individual traveling to Afghanistan and performing jihad,” the complaint states. .

However, Joseph soon rethinks and runs out to talk to the agents before they leave campus. Joseph told agents that he and Alkattoul began chatting about a year and a half ago, and Alkattoul “gradually became radicalized,” the complaint states.

However, Joseph said he never really thought Alkattoul was serious. He then agreed to hand his phone back to the agents, who noticed that one of the chat threads they had viewed earlier was no longer there. When asked why he deleted it, Joseph replied that he “didn’t want to get in trouble” and that he felt “embarrassed,” according to the complaint.

Joseph also admitted to calling Alkattoul after walking out of a previous interview with agents. According to the complaint, Alkattoul did not respond.

According to the complaint, forensic extraction of the phone’s contents revealed a deleted conversation in which Joseph told Alkattoul he wanted to apply for a concealed baggage permit and that he preferred “hunting guns than rifles”.

In October, Joseph searched online for the requirements needed to legally purchase a gun in Florida as well as New Jersey, Alkattoul’s home state, the complaint continues.

“Joseph also searched for ammunition, specifically 7.62×39 and 223 ammo, on the Lucky Gunner website,” the complaint continued.

Two days before Joseph was interviewed by the FBI, he allegedly tweeted, “As an ISIS recruiter, I ask that you remove all your songs from various platforms before the consequences are severe. serious happens.”

After the FBI interview on November 6, Joseph is said to have tweeted, “Oh damn, did I say that right? What does condolence mean? Did I say condolences or no condolences??? Whatever…. New Statement—I DO NOT SUPPORT Terrorism OR ANY Terrorist Group EVERYTHING I SAY ONLINE BECAUSE THEY IS A GAME AND I AM.”

However, the complaint points to a tweet that Joseph allegedly posted on November 9, 2020, which read: “I’M READY,” along with “an image of a weapon with a magazine sticker on it.” even weapons”.

It adds, “The same image of the weapon appeared several other times on Joseph’s Twitter, specifically again on November 7, 2020, where Joseph was replying to another user and tweeting, ‘ I have guns in my shed.

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