By Stefanie Dazio
PASSAIC – A 21-year-old Clifton man is accused of throwing lit firecrackers outside a synagogue and yelling “Allahu Akbar” before fleeing in a car Saturday night.
Rizek Musheisen is charged with bias intimidation, possession of fireworks, harassment and criminal mischief, Detective Andy White said. He was in the city’s lockup Sunday morning before bail was set.
Officers Michelle Merced and Matthew Auflander responded to the Ahavas Israel Synagogue at 181 Van Houten Ave. around 8 p.m. after a report of a suspicious incident, White said. The synagogue was open at the time.
A witness told them a 2012 black Nissan with tinted windows had pulled up in front of the synagogue, and one man, later identified as Musheisen, got out, lit the firecrackers and yelled the phrase – which White said translates to “God is greater, God is greatest” – before getting back into the car, according to police.
The witness’ description helped Merced and Auflander, part of the police department’s quality of life unit, find the car in a nearby Quick Chek parking lot.
They found a bag of firecrackers in the car’s trunk, White said. Musheisen was in the car with three men from Passaic, Jersey City and Linden. The three men were not charged in connection with the crime; authorities believe Musheisen acted alone.
The officers and Detective Sgt. Roy Bordamonte are investigating the incident, White said. Authorities don’t believe anyone was injured.
Police do not know if this was an isolated incident and caution residents to remain vigilant.
Anyone with information is asked to call Bordamonte at 973-365-3938.