Incident Summary:

08/15/1983: Beth Shalom Jewish Religious and Community Center in Bloomington, Indiana, United States, was set on fire by the white supremacist group, the Covenant, Sword and the Arm of the Lord. No casualties resulted from the firebomb, which caused a small explosion, destroying and old Torah and burning a curtain. The perpetrators were identified as James D. Ellison, who was also the founder of CSA, and was eventually convicted and sentenced for the crime, and a former CSA member, William Thomas, who was also indicted for the crime.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:



Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Facility/Infrastructure Attack
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Religious Figures/Institutions
Name of Entity Beth Shalom Jewish Religious and Community Center
Specific Description Jewish religious and community center
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Minor (likely < $1 million)
Value of Property Damage Unknown
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Incendiary Molotov Cocktail/Petrol Bomb
Weapon Details
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Additional Information James Ellison was convicted under the Federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act for several arsons, including the arson of a church with a predominantly homosexual congregation six days prior to this incident, as well as other crimes, and received a 20-year prison sentence. William Thomas, former CSA member, was also indicted on similar charges for this incident. Both belonged to the CSA, and believed in the Christian Identity and that all minorities and other races were inferior to the white race; the group was anti-government and sought to start a holy war and overthrow the government through force by way of murder and sabotage; the group believed the Aryans were the chosen people and that the government was run by a Zionist occupation that they had to bring down.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Covenant, Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 2
Number of Captured Perpetrators 2
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 0 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 0
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
"Ellison Convicted On Three Counts," The Associated Press, July 18, 1985.
The Associated Press, April 25, 1985.
Mark S. Hamm, "Terrorism as Crime: From Oklahoma City to Al-Qaeda and Beyond," New York University Press, 2007.