Woman says she was 'surprised' after ex-husband accused of planning attack on synagogue

James Medina, 40, charged with planning to use a weapon of mass destruction

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor , Terrell Forney - Reporter

AVENTURA, Fla. - Local 10 News spoke exclusively with the ex-wife of a man accused of plotting an attack on a synagogue in Aventura.

Authorities said they thwarted James Medina's plan to use a weapon of mass destruction to blow up the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. 

He was arrested Friday and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

"I'm very surprised," his ex-wife told Local 10 News reporter Terrell Forney. "When we were together he was very religious … I thought, he's not a terrorist. He's just crazy and he needs to get some help because he's not on his medication."

Medina, 40, appeared in court on Monday, where he said he had changed his last name to Mohammed.

Family members said Medina previously made threats against them before falling off the grid.

Medina's ex-wife said the couple shares an 11-year-old son together.

"What is your son saying about all of this?” Forney asked.

"He knows that his dad is crazy and he needs some help," the woman said.

According to the U.S. criminal complaint, the FBI began investigating Medina in March after he told a confidential informant that he planned to attack a synagogue.

During the course of several conversations with the confidential informant, Medina said he planned to strike the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, FBI Special Agent David Clancy said in the criminal complaint.

Medina "confirmed his desire to conduct the attack using AK-47 assault rifles," the complaint said.

Medina has been held at the federal detention center in Miami since his arrest. If convicted, he faces a maximum of life in prison.

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