Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bomb Suspect Called Hateful

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bomb Suspect Called Hateful

Article excerpt

He didn't believe in God and hated American government.

He spoke ill of religions and put down classmates.

And he could, at times, be hostile.

That's how some who knew Aakash Dalal -- arrested Friday for his alleged role in the firebombing of two Bergen County synagogues -- remember him from Lodi High School.

Some members of the tennis team, where Dalal played singles, described him Saturday as a loner, a smart but socially awkward person who could lash out at any time -- at them, at organized religion, at government.

"I think a majority of the people that were on the team, that went to school with him, would probably say it's not surprising," said Hammad Farooq, 18, one of Dalal's teammates. "He basically just used to say bad stuff about every religion, about the government, how everything's run."

"I'm from Pakistan, and a couple of friends that were from India, we basically all got targeted on the tennis team because of our religion and beliefs. And he did threaten a couple of us -- 'I'm going to bomb you' this and that -- but we just took it as a joke."

Teammate Harkamal Singh said Dalal could "be threatening" and would overreact to joking around about losing a game or cutting in front of him during practice.

"He actually told me once -- it was a joke hopefully -- that I'm going to bring a knife tomorrow and I'm going to stab you," said Singh.

But his slight stature made Dalal easy to dismiss: "The way he looked at you when he said stuff, if he wasn't a little scrawny kid it would have been more intimidating," Farooq said.

"He always had a weird way -- just a weird personality," said Kyle Boris, 19. "He would always, like, put down other kids. I guess he thought he was better than other kids, but I would never think he would do something of this magnitude."

Teammates said Dalal kept to himself, didn't help younger, less experienced players or stay after practice to socialize.

"He didn't try to be like a team player," said Boris. "He was a singles player, so he pretty much worried about himself. He didn't try to help out other people."

Dalal once won second-team all-league honors, according to The Record's archives. …

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