US man who set synagogue on fire jailed for 10 years

(Image: Franklin Sechriest. Source: AP)

A man in Texas, United States, Franklin Sechriest, who set a synagogue on fire in an anti-Semitic (hostility against Jewish people) attack, has been sentenced to jail on Wednesday for 10 years, including three years of supervised release.

In April, he pleaded guilty to hate crimes and arson charges, stemming from a 2021 crime in which he tried to burn down the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Austin.

Aside from the prison time and supervised release, Sechriest, who is a 19-year-old resident of San Marcos, must pay the Jewish congregation $470,000 in restitution, Christian Post reports.

Speaking on the judgment, the Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, said in a statement that Sechriest is "being held accountable for this depraved, antisemitic attack on Congregation Beth Israel.

“This hate-filled act of violence against a house of worship was an attempt to sow fear in the Jewish community and was intended to intimidate its congregants.

"Attacks targeting Jewish people and arsons aimed at desecrating synagogues have no place in our society today, and the Justice Department will continue to aggressively prosecute anti-Semitic violence."

According to court documents, Sechriest drove to the synagogue on Halloween 2021 and was seen in surveillance video carrying materials that would be used to set fire to the building.

In a journal, Sechriest revealed that his aim was to target the congregation because they were Jewish.

In recent times, there has been an increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States amid the war between Israel and Hamas.

Speaking on the situation, Cornell University President, Martha Pollack, released a statement denouncing the online threats and declaring that the university "will not tolerate anti-Semitism at Cornell."

She said, "The virulence and destructiveness of anti-Semitism is real and deeply impacting our Jewish students, faculty and staff, as well as the entire Cornell community. This incident highlights the need to combat the forces that are dividing us and driving us toward hate.

"Regardless of your beliefs, backgrounds or perspectives, I urge all of you to come together with the empathy and support for each other that we so greatly need in this difficult time."

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