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Brooklyn man faces charges of arson at yeshiva, synagogue

May 24, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Ali Alaheri, a 29-year-old Brooklyn resident, has been charged in a federal complaint with setting fire to a yeshiva and synagogue, as well as attacking a man dressed in traditional Hasidic garb.

He was arrested in Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County, on Friday and made his initial appearance on Saturday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Vera Scanlon. 

As alleged in the complaint and detention letter, in the pre-dawn hours of May 19, 2021, Alaheri was captured on surveillance video piling garbage bags against the side of a building on 36th Street in Brooklyn that housed a yeshiva and a synagogue.  

Alaheri was then recorded igniting the garbage bags, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District.  Firefighters responded to a fire alarm at the location and extinguished the blaze.  

Several hours later, Alaheri was again captured on surveillance video, this time repeatedly punching a man wearing traditional Hasidic garb, according to prosecutors.  

There was no interaction between Alaheri and the victim prior to the assault.  When Alaheri was arrested, he appeared to be wearing the same clothing he was wearing in the video footage of the assault, prosecutors said.

If convicted, Alaheri faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, and a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment.

Mark J. Lesko, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John B. DeVito, special agent in charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea; and FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro announced the arrest and charge.

“As alleged in the complaint and detention letter, Alaheri deliberately set fire to the sacred home of a yeshiva and synagogue, and viciously attacked a man wearing traditional Hasidic garb, demonstrating a violent hatred that cannot be tolerated,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Lesko.  

“Ali Alaheri, as alleged in today’s federal complaint, set fire to a school and religious institution and threatened public safety for all. I commend our NYPD investigators, our government partners and the prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York for their work in bringing swift justice in this case,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.

“Arson is a callous and senseless crime that endangers the lives of innocent residents and our firefighters who bravely respond to protect life and property,” stated FDNY Commissioner Nigro. 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Section.  Assistant United States Attorney Rachel Shanies is in charge of the prosecution. 

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