White supremacist pleads guilty over plot to blow up Colorado synagogue

Richard Holzer, 28, was arrested in November after an FBI undercover operation

A self-described white supremacist pleaded guilty on Thursday to federal hate crime and explosives charges over a botched plot to blow up a historic Colorado synagogue last year, prosecutors said.

Richard Holzer, 28, who was arrested in November after an FBI undercover operation, admitted planning to bomb the Temple Emanuel synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado, the US Attorney’s Office said.

Holzer, who lived in Pueblo, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to obstruct religious services by force, and one of trying to destroy a building used in interstate commerce, in the US District Court in Denver.

The temple, built in 1900, is the second oldest synagogue in Colorado and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The actions Holzer admitted in the plea agreement meet the federal definition of domestic terrorism as they involved criminal acts dangerous to human life, which were intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population,” US Attorney Jason Dunn said.

The Colorado Office of the Federal Public Defender, which represents Holzer, does not comment publicly on its cases.

Authorities uncovered the plot after FBI agents came across social media postings by Holzer.

In them, he promoted white supremacy and his hatred for Jewish people, an arrest warrant affidavit read.

Undercover FBI agents, posing as racists, met Holzer and he told them of his plan to bomb the synagogue to send a message to Jewish people that they were not welcome in Pueblo, about 185 kilometres south of Denver.

He enlisted the agents to help acquire explosives and was arrested after the agents gave him inert pipe bombs and sticks of dynamite.

Holzer faces up to 40 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in January, prosecutors said.