Benjamin McDowell may have been the next person to go down in infamy if succeeded in his planned terror attack on a synagogue. Instead, he’s behind bars.
McDowell, 29, was apprehended by FBI agents on Wednesday after he purchased a gun from an undercover agent in South Carolina, according to local media. After serving a stint in prison for previous violent crimes, McDowell latched onto white supremacist ideology, and got several racist tattoos while incarcerated. Horry County police informed the FBI that McDowell posted a suspicious post to Facebook with the caption, “I love love to act what you think,” before linking to the Temple Emanu-El Conservative Synagogue’s website last December.
Last month, McDowell’s intentions became clearer when he referenced Dylann Roof in another rambling Facebook post that read, “you want to post if you ain’t got the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof did you need to shut the f***** up.” Then, on January 12, an FBI agent masquerading as a white supremacist agreed to meet with McDowell to sell him a gun, after noticing McDowell was looking to buy an “iron” (code for a firearm).
While meeting with the undercover agent at a motel in Myrtle Beach, McDowell confided to the agent that he wanted to “do something on a fuckin’ big scale and write on the fuckin’ building or whatever, ‘In the spirit of Dylann Roof.'” He later agreed to buy a .40 caliber Glock pistol from the agent, along with hollow-point ammunition. He was arrested that same day.
As of this writing, McDowell doesn’t yet have an attorney, and is being held in the Florence County Detention Center, where he is awaiting a February 21 hearing.
Outside of South Carolina, hate groups are on the rise nationwide. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that since Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, hate groups targeting Muslims have risen by 197 percent, calling 2016 “a banner year for hate.”
Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Send him an email at [email protected]