Florida Synagogue Would-be Bomber Pleads Not Guilty, Cites Mental Health

James Medina, an American-born convert to Islam, was arrested as he attempted to approach a Miami-area shul with a fake bomb provided by an FBI informant.

The Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in Miami, May 2, 2016.
Lynne Sladky, AP

A South Florida man pleaded not guilty to the charge that he plotted to bomb a Miami-area synagogue.

The plea was entered Monday in federal court by the court-appointed attorney for James Medina, The Associated Press reported.

Medina, 40, a convert to Islam from Hollywood, was arrested by the FBI on April 29 while approaching the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center with what he believed was a bomb. He was furnished with the real looking but fake bomb by an FBI informant.

Medina’s family and attorney have said he is mentally ill and has previously been committed to a psychiatric hospital.

According to prosecutors, Medina initially planned to attack the 800-member Conservative synagogue and its school with assault rifles on Yom Kippur and was hoping to inspire other Muslims to commit terrorist attacks. He told the FBI informant, “Jewish people are the ones causing the world’s wars and conflicts.”

Medina was recorded telling an FBI informant he was prepared to kill innocent women and children. He also allegedly made several videos before the planned attack on the synagogue, including one in which he said goodbye to his family, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Medina has an arrest record in Florida, including misdemeanor domestic violence charges that were dismissed after a mental health expert determined he was incompetent to assist in his defense, the Sun Sentinel reported, citing state court records.