(JTA) – Miami police arrested a man who stood outside a Miami Beach synagogue and allegedly threatened the congregants.
Diego Chaar, who said he visited the Ohev Shalom Synagogue in order to convert its members, was arrested Sunday and faces charges of assault and stalking.
Chaar reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is greatest,” and told one of the members sitting out in front of the synagogue on Saturday night at the end of Shabbat that “I will cut your head off.”
Chaar was questioned by police after being picked up on Sunday, and then let go. He was rearrested on Tuesday after returning to the synagogue, according to reports.
It is not known if he also will be charged with a hate crime. He has been arrested in the past for marijuana and cocaine possession and served prison time for drug trafficking.
Rabbi Pinchas Weberman, the Orthodox synagogue’s head rabbi for over 54 years and a chaplain for Miami Beach Police and Miami-Dade Police, told a local television station that he remains concerned for his congregation’s safety. He said he wants the case investigated as a hate crime.
Chaar told Channel 7 in Miami that he converted to Islam in prison a few years ago. “They can be as angry as they want. I have freedom of speech,” he said.