Jewish teenager arrested following over 100 bomb threats against Jewish targets

March 24, 2017 Agencies
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A Jewish teenager with dual Israeli and American citizenship living in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon was arrested Thursday in connection to the wave of more than 100 bomb threats against JCCs and other Jewish institutions across North America since the beginning of 2017.

International news agencies have reported that the teenage was involved in incidents in Australia and in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

David Zwarz reports: However The New Zealand Jewish Council is not aware of a telephone bomb threat to any Jewish facility in Aotearoa New Zealand over the past 6 months.

While overseas community centres and public places have been targeted recently, and a man arrested for these crimes, the Council could not confirm news reports of any New Zealand Jewish centre receiving the same threats.

Council President Stephen Goodman said: “We have a good relationship with the New Zealand Police and internal security procedures. We are not aware of an incident, as the media are reporting.”

A 19-year old man was arrested in Israel on charges relating to worldwide bomb threats using sophisticated technology. Initial reports are that he has a brain tumour “which may affect his behaviour, his ability to understand right and wrong,” However, investigations are ongoing.

The New Zealand Police were reportedly involved in locating the man, along with agencies from other countries, including Australia and the United States.

“Our sympathies are with anyone affected by the threats,” Stephen Goodman added. “We are grateful for the actions of all security agencies involved in the man’s arrest and hope he can get the help he needs.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim told J-Wire: “The evacuation of the Jewish Museum and community offices in Sydney recently was because of a threat. But at this stage we do not know of any connection with the suspect.”

Sean Savage of reports…

The suspect, 19, was arrested by Israel’s Lahav 433 police unit in the wake of a months-long investigation by Israeli authorities, who worked alongside the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies. Authorities did not release the suspect’s name Thursday. Additionally, police detained the suspect’s father on suspicion that he knew of his son’s activities.

Authorities believe the suspect was also behind a bomb threat against two Delta Airlines flights between New York and Tel Aviv in January 2015, the Times of Israel reported.

The JCC Association of North America said Thursday that it is “gratified by the progress in this investigation” and praised law enforcement agencies’ “commitment and leadership.” But the umbrella organization for the community centers added that it is “troubled to learn that the individual suspected of making these threats…is reportedly Jewish.”

During a raid on the suspect’s home, authorities found an advanced computer lab with sophisticated equipment, including voice-altering technology, encryption methods and a large antenna that he likely used to phone and email bomb threats to Jewish institutions in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

According to Haaretz, authorities confiscated five computers, including the large antennas, which police believe allowed the suspect to use other people’s networks to commit the alleged crimes and throw off investigators. But eventually, police were able to create a profile of the suspect and determine the method to find him.

The scene outside the JCC in Nashville, Tenn., following a bomb threat Jan. 9. Credit: YouTube.

It is believed the suspect has lived in Israel for several years, and that the IDF refused to draft him “on personal grounds after funding him unfit for service,” Haaretz reported.

The suspect was scheduled to be brought before a Magistrate’s Court in the Israeli city of Rishon LeZion Thursday.

Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said this arrest was part of a coordinated international operation to try to find to find suspects behind the bomb threats.

“This specific investigation was complex in terms of the suspect and its nature, and there was a significant breakthrough in the investigation which led us to make the arrest of the suspect, who lives in southern Israel,” Rosenfeld told the Jerusalem Post.

Rosenfeld added that “he was the main suspect behind the numerous amount of threats which were made to different Jewish communities and organizations around the world.” Investigators, he said, will to continue to “see if and how he was connected to the different Jewish communities in the U.S. That directs the investigation to the American connection. We are looking to see if there was an incident which triggered him to carry out threatening those communities.”

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan congratulated police on the arrest and expressed his hope that it would bring an end to the threats against Jewish institutions.

“We hope that this investigation will help shed light on some of the recent threats against Jewish institutions, which have caused great concern both among Jewish communities and the Israeli government,” said Erdan.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, said the Department of Justice “is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs. I commend the FBI and Israeli National Police for their outstanding work on this case.”

Earlier this month, U.S. authorities arrested Juan Thompson, a 31-year-old former news reporter from St. Louis, in connection with eight bomb threats against Jewish institutions. At the time, law enforcement officials said Thompson was not believed to be the main suspect behind the threats, an assertion that is purportedly confirmed by the latest arrest.

Following Thursday’s arrest in Israel, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that even though “it appears that the main culprit behind the majority of these attacks has allegedly been identified, anti-Semitism in the U.S. remains a very serious concern.”

“No arrests have been made in three cemetery desecrations [that have occurred in early 2017] or a series of other anti-Semitic incidents involving swastika graffiti and hate fliers,” he said. “JCCs and other institutions should not relax security measures or become less vigilant.”



6 Responses to “Jewish teenager arrested following over 100 bomb threats against Jewish targets”
  1. Jan Poddebsky says:

    Dear Gil,
    You might make a more significant point by confronting Mr Jackson with his anti-Semitism. I have already challenged his obvious discomfort with using the very word ‘Jew’ in this forum. He simply cannot bring himself to utter the word. You need to change your target.

  2. Jan Poddebsky says:

    Dear Mr Jackson,
    I look forward to an encounter with a Hebrew. I met a Zoroastrian once and that was quite an experience.

    • Gil Solomon says:

      Jan Poddebsky,

      There is no point in you trying to make light of the term “Hebrew” used by Mr Jackson in what can only be described as a clearly anti-Semitic reference. If you are unable to respond seriously to what I consider a disgraceful attack against Jews in general, then I suggest you simply write nothing.

      • Adrian Jackson says:

        Look up Hebrew Herald on Google it was a forerunner to the Australian Jewish News newspaper.

  3. Adrian Jackson says:

    This is serious stuff and ties up a lot of police resources and creating fear.

    However I wonder if other “activists”, who are responsible for spraying hostile symbols on walls and buildings, are in some cases, Hebrews trying to blame others and to get sympathy for Israel?

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