Israeli authorities have arrested a 19-year-old US-Israeli dual citizen on suspicion for calling in bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers around the world. Police Spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told the Jerusalem Post that the teen “was the main suspect” for threats made to centers in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the US.
“The investigation began in several countries at the same time, in which dozens of threatening calls were received at public places, events, synagogues and community buildings that caused panic and disrupted events and activities in various organizations,” said Israeli police said in a statement.
Since January, Jewish community centers and schools across America have received over 100 bomb threats. The Huffington Post reported that “the majority of the threats have come in waves and often feature a disguised, robotic voice.” The FBI, which has been investigating the threats, confirmed the arrest to the New York Times and released the following statement:
In America, the threats heightened fears of anti-semitism, which has increased since 2015 and exists amid a greater climate of racial tension stoked by Trump’s campaign rhetoric and subsequent policies. Trump was criticized for remaining silent during the initial bomb threats and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries. He later condemned the attacks in remarks delivered at the African American Museum of History, calling them “horrible and are painful.”
However, police have not released any information surrounding the suspect’s motives. It is also unknown, at this point, whether he was a lone operator or worked with a team of people. Police have also detained and questioned the suspect’s father to ask him about the son’s technology, which included a “large antennae and other unusual hardware,” according to the Post.
According to the Times, the investigation is separate from the case of Juan Thomas, a former journalist in St. Louis who was arrested in February for allegedly threatened several Jewish community centers.
“As part of the ongoing investigation, we are trying to see if and how he was connected to the different Jewish communities in the US. 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,” Rosenfeld told the Post.