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American man guilty of 2018 synagogue massacre: US media

US embassy in Israel tells employees, families to restrict movements
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An American man was found guilty on Friday of massacring 11 Jewish worshippers five years ago in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history, local media reported.

Robert Bowers was convicted of opening fire inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 27, 2018.

The 50-year-old was found guilty of all 63 federal charges against him, including hate crimes resulting in death, CNN, ABC and others reported.

A jury will now decide whether Bowers should receive the death penalty for the mass shooting.

Prosecutors told his trial that Bowers methodically tracked down victims at the synagogue, shooting many of them multiple times and from close range.

The court heard that the former truck driver yelled “All Jews must die!” during the rampage that added to fears about a resurgence of far-right extremists and neo-Nazis across the United States.

The incident occurred during Shabbat services and Bowers was armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle and three Glock handguns. He was arrested at the scene.

Members of three congregations in the synagogue were killed, while two additional worshippers and several police officers were also wounded.

Bowers had expressed strong anti-Semitic views online ahead of the attack.

Donald Trump, then the US president, called for Bowers to receive the death penalty, which federal prosecutors formally requested in August 2019.

The Department of Justice under President Joe Biden has not carried out any federal executions since he came to power in January 2021, however.

Bowers’ defense team has argued that their client suffers from schizophrenia. They offered a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison, which was rejected by the prosecution.

Bowers’ lawyers did not dispute during the trial that it was Bowers who shot the congregants, but they argued that he had not been motivated by a hatred of Jewish people.

They claimed he had a “misguided intent” of wanting to stop one of the Jewish organizations from helping immigrants settle in the United States.

The trial opened in late April and came amid a rising number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, according to data compiled by the Anti-Defamation League.

In 2022, the US-based Jewish group registered 3,697 acts of harassment, vandalism and assault, a 36 percent increase over the prior year and the highest since it began keeping records in 1979.

The United States is home to around six million Jewish people, according to a Pew Research Center study published in May 2021.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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