A man accused of setting fire to a yeshiva and synagogue in Brooklyn earlier this week has been arrested and faces federal arson charges for attempting to damage the religious centers in addition to targeting a man in Hasidic garb, federal authorities announced Saturday.
Federal prosecutors allege Ali Alaheri, 29, intentionally set fire to a yeshiva and synagogue early Wednesday morning on 36th Street near Borough Park. They accuse the Brooklyn man of stacking piles of garbage next to the building and setting them on fire.
Alaheri, seen on surveillance video igniting the blaze, was also recorded attacking a man who wore traditional Hasidic garb a few hours later on the same block as the yeshiva, federal authorities said.
"With no provocation or prior interaction, the defendant began punching the victim in the head repeatedly. He took the victim’s cellular telephone, but subsequently dropped it," prosecutors detailed in their detention memo asking the man to be held pending a trial.
“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 Marck Lesko.
Investigators are also linking Alaheri to a series of other crimes committed throughout the city in recent weeks. They claim he's responsible for an attack against a Black man standing in a subway station in New York City on May 5. Prosecutors also described this attack as unprovoked.
He's also accused of setting fire to an American flag outside a Catholic church and toppling a crucifix last week displayed at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn.
Federal officials and the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force arrested Alaheri after he was stopped by police in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County on Friday.
Alaheri was scheduled to appear in federal court on Saturday. His public defender had no comment following the scheduled appearance.