New Jersey: Family’s Report Thwarts Pressure-Cooker Bomb Plot

A Point Pleasant (Ocean County) man faces federal terrorism charges after a family member notified law enforcement of his erratic behavior—underscoring the role friends, relatives, and close associates play in countering violence. According to authorities, Gregory Lepsky plotted to build a pressure-cooker bomb and detonate it in New York City to “kill as many people as possible” in support of ISIS.

  • On February 21, a relative notified local law enforcement that Lepsky had a weapon and was going to kill the family dog. Officers discovered the dog alive, but with a large wound, and subsequently arrested Lepsky. According to the criminal complaint, Lepsky stated that he had stabbed the dog because, in his view of Islam, dogs are “dirty.” He also said he planned to kill his mother and praised ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
     
  • During the investigation, officers found a pressure cooker in Lepsky’s closet, as well as several books on jihad and suicide bombing. On May 5, federal prosecutors charged Lepsky with attempting to provide material support to ISIS, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.

Family members, peers, and close contacts may be the first to notice radical shifts in behavior and attitude, as well as unusual Internet activity. According to Western media reports, Islamic extremists are 71 percent more likely to “leak” their violent intentions to friends, relatives, or other associates, compared to 53 percent of right-wing extremists, such as neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

  • The family member who contacted Point Pleasant police first noticed a change in Lepsky’s behavior in December, stating he began expressing radical Islamic rhetoric in his text messages and social media posts. In one message, Lepsky stated, “Allah (the most exalted) commands us Muslims to fight against the desbelivers [sic] until there is none left!”
     
  • We encourage all partners to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement and to NJOHSP’s Counterterrorism Watch by calling 866-4-SAFE-NJ (866-472-3365) or e-mailing tips@njohsp.gov.


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.