Monday, 25 Sep 2023 - 10 of Tishri, 5784

ADL welcomes arrest in connection with bomb threats against Jewish institutions in the US, suspect is 18-year-old Israeli-American living in Israel

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NEW YORK/JERUSALEM (EJP)—The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed news of an arrest in connection with over 100 bob threats against Jewish community institutions in the United States and abroad.

A 18-year-old man who holds dual Israeli-American citizenship was arrested  after a months-long undercover investigation by the Israeli police and the FBI, saying the man had used advanced technologies to hide his identity.

The suspect holds dual American-Israeli citizenship, according to authorities.           

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement: ‘’        

‘’We are relieved there’s been an arrest in the majority of the bomb threats against JCCs, schools, synagogues and several of our offices across the country,’’ said  Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO.

‘’We are deeply grateful to the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the state and local law enforcement officials who made this investigation the highest priority,’’ he added.

Israel’s anti-fraud squad arrested the suspect at his home in southern Israel and searched the premises on Thursday. He also is accused of a series of threats made in Europe, Australia and New Zealand in the past six months, according to Israeli reports.

Ynet news reported that the teen is from Ashkelon.

There are still few details available about the suspect’s profile, but he is not in the IDF, not ultra-Orthodox, at some point made aliya andpossibly has psychological problems and few friends.

Reports said that during the hearing the teens’ attorney requested that he be placed under supervision after raising concern for his mental status, claiming that he might try to harm himself.

The attorney told the court that the teen has had a brain tumor since the age of 14, and has been homeschooled since then. The attorney said that the tumor affects his behavior, Ynet reported.

He appeared in court in Rishon Lezion on Thursday for a remand hearing, where he was ordered held over until March 30. His motives are unknown, according to reports.

The suspect’s father has also been detained and is being questioned as to whether he knew about the suspect’s activities, including the suspect’s use of an unusually large antenna and other unusual hardware that could have drawn suspicion.

While the teen will be indicted in Israel, it is likely that the United States will request his extradition to be tried there.

The teen reportedly used advanced technology and voice-altering equipment to call in the threats to more than 100 JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish institutions in the United States. He also is accused of making a threatening call to Delta Airlines, leading to the emergency landing of at least one plane.

During the cyber unit’s raid on the teen’s home, police found a computer lab with sophisticated equipment, encryption and transmission systems, and a powerful antenna, according to reports.

According to ADL, while the details of this crime remain unclear, the impact of this individual’s actions is crystal clear. ‘’These were acts of anti-Semitism. These threats targeted Jewish institutions, were calculated to sow fear and anxiety, and put the entire Jewish community on high alert.’’

‘’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 or a series of other anti-Semitic incidents involving swastika graffiti and hate fliers.  JCCs and other institutions should not relax security measures or become less vigilant,’’ ADL said.

Commenting on the teenager’s arrest, Israel’s minister of public security, Gilad Erdan, commented on the teen’s arrest.

“I congratulate the Israeli police on leading a complex international investigation, together with law enforcement agencies from around the world, which led to the arrest of the suspect,” Erdan said. “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.”

Earlier this month, a St. Louis resident and former journalist, Juan Thompson, was arrested and charged for making at least eight bomb threats against Jewish community centers and the Anti-Defamation League.

Thompson, 31, made some of the threats in the name of a former romantic partner he had been cyberstalking and some in his own in an attempt to portray himself as being framed. He was charged with cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.


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