Jewish teen hacker with American and Israeli citizenship behind rash of bomb threats to Jewish institutions JCC bomb threats in America, other countries arrested
Israeli police, acting on a request by the FBI arrested the 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man who lives in the southern sea-side city of Ashkelon, Isreal
Israeli police said teen culprit is a hacker
Cops say he used voice disguiser, ‘phone-spoofing’ device The Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights, Brooklyn was evacuated on March 9, after staffers received an email about a bomb in the building
A 19-year-old Jewish man with dual American and Israeli citizenship was arrested Thursday for being the main suspect in a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States.
The stunning arrest of the Jewish teen, yet to be identified by name, came after an international probe spearheaded by the FBI was investigating over 100 threatening calls received by JCCs in the past two months.
The Israeli police, acting on a request by the FBI, has arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man on suspicion of making dozens of threats against Jewish organizations in the United States, and against airlines in the United States and other countries.
The unnamed teen, who has a dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship, lives in the southern sea-side city of Ashkelon.
As Jewish groups celebrated the arrest in the case, which raised concerns of a rising wave of anti-Semitism, Israeli police described the teen as a hacker. Adding that his motives remain unclear.
According to the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, there have been at least 149 of such threats, Since Jan. 4, 2017
“He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, referring to the scores of anonymous calls phoned into Jewish community centers.
The suspect shielded his face from photographers as guards escorted him out of a courtroom.
The teen’s lawyer said his client suffers from a “very serious” medical condition that kept him out of school and the Israeli Defense Forces, and may have affected his behavior.
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“This is one of the things the judge told the police to check, to talk to his doctors, to get more documents and to investigate him according to his medical situation,” said attorney Galit Bash.The teen’s father has also been detained for questioning, official said.
The motive for the bomb-threat spree remains a mystery. Israeli police said he used sophisticated technology to disguise his voice and location when making the calls to centers in this country as well as Australia and New Zealand.
New York Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller told “CBS This Morning” on Mar. 10, that the hoaxer uses a device to make his voice sound female along with a “phone-spoofing” device that makes it seem like the call is coming from inside the targeted building. Disgraced former journalist, Juan Thompson, nabbed by FBI for bomb threats against eight Jewish Community Centers
Israeli authorities worked with the FBI and other international law enforcement to crack the case. During his arrest, the teen tried to grab an officer’s gun until another cop stopped him, officials said.
“Today’s arrest in Israel is the culmination of a large-scale investigation spanning multiple continents for hate crimes against Jewish communities across our country,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
“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.”
More than 150 Jewish centers and schools across America have been hit with false bomb threats this year, including three JCC’s on Staten Island, with dozens sometimes coming in seemingly coordinated calls on a single day.
Disgraced reporter Juan Thompson was arrested on March 3 for a string of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and charged with cyberstalking
Dep Commissioner Miller in his CBS interview described the incidents as “coordinated.”
“We have what appears to be one offender behind a large number of these, and then we have had kind of copy cats,” he said. “We have an offender with some technical prowess here.”
Earlier in the month investigations led to 31-year-old Juan Thompson, a disgraced former journalist who lost his job in 2016 for fabricating stories. Thompson was arrested in St. Louis for at least eight of the threats. Police said his wave of terror appeared to be a form of retaliation against an ex-lover.
Trump faced fierce criticism in February for his apparent suggestion that Jews might be placing some of the threats to make others look bad. In a meeting with state attorneys general, Trump reportedly remarked about the threats, “Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people, or to make others, look bad.”
Only later did he condemn the threats and the rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents in America.
Jewish groups commended law enforcement for the arrest and said the calls still spoke to a spike in anti-Semitism.
“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,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.
“JCCs and other institutions should not relax security measures or become less vigilant.”
Nimrod Vax, a co-founder of the U.S.-Israeli cybersecurity firm BigID, said catching the suspect was a complicated task.
He said authorities would have had to sift through “billions, if not trillions” of pieces of data, including phone records and IP connections.
“It requires a lot of resources,” he added. Haaretz reports that the arrest was made after more than a month of investigation by the FBI’s cybercrime unit, and the Israeli police’s cybercrime branch, which acted on tips from the FBI and from the police in Australia and New Zealand.