Police Nab Israeli-American Teenager for U.S. Bomb Threats

Updated on
  • More than 150 threats were received by Jewish institutions
  • Suspect was arrested in southern Israel early Thursday morning

Israeli police arrested an Israeli-American teenager suspected of making threatening phone calls to Jewish community centers across the U.S.

The youth, whose name has been withheld, was ordered into custody until at least March 30 while the investigation continues, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a text message. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement that the operation to locate and arrest the suspect was conducted jointly and it commended Israeli law enforcement for their efforts.

More than 150 bomb threats have been received by Jewish institutions since Jan. 9, including community centers and schools, according to a statement by the Anti-Defamation League.

Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a text message that the national police force led a “complex international investigation, together with law enforcement agencies around the world, which led to the arrest of the suspect.”

The 19-year-old suspect was pick up in a raid on his home in southern Israel early Thursday by a special police cyber team that found sophisticated equipment designed to mask the source of the phone calls and the suspect’s voice, Samri said.

Delta Threat

Along with dozens of calls made to synagogues, schools and community centers in the U.S., he is suspected of making threats to Jewish institutions in Australia and New Zealand. A threat phoned in to Delta Airlines that caused a flight to make an emergency landing was also attributed to the suspect, police said.

“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,” Samri said.

President Donald Trump came under pressure early in his administration to condemn the threats against Jewish institutions, which he did in a February speech to Congress. Attorney General Jeff Sessions labeled the threats as “hate crimes.”

“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,” Sessions said in a statement after the arrest.

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