This morning, Israeli media reported that a 19-year-old Israeli from Ashkelon, who also holds American citizenship, had been arrested in connection with the recent spate of bomb threat hoaxes against North American Jewish Community Centers. His arrest is not believed to be linked to that of ex-journalist Juan Thompson of St. Louis, Missouri, who was charged earlier this month for at least eight of the bomb threats against JCCs and the Anti-Defamation League.
After a months-long international investigation, the teenager was arrested by the cyberattack unit of Israel’s anti-fraud squad, which discovered that he had been using sophisticated technology, including a voice-altering mechanism, to call in the false threats. The suspect is also believed to have issued threats to airports and shopping malls. One of those threats reportedly led to the grounding of a Delta Airlines flight in February 2015.
The man’s attorney, Galit Bash, told Haaretz that the suspect “suffers from severe medical problems” and that “there is concern that his medical condition affects his cognitive functioning.” This medical condition exempted him from the Israeli draft. YNet reports that the lawyer said the young man suffers from a brain tumor, though this is unconfirmed by other sources.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, commended law enforcement for arresting the alleged perpetrator and counseled vigilance with regard to the many other documented cases of recent anti-Semitism across the U.S.:
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.