U.S.-Israeli teen arrested in Israel is escorted by security personnel following his remand hearing at Magistrate’s Court in Rishon Lezion, Israel, on March 23, 2017. REUTERS
Rosenfeld said the investigation had begun in several countries where dozens of ominous calls were received at public places, events, synagogues and community buildings. In one instance, he added, a Delta Airlines flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport had to make an emergency landing in 2015 after a false threat about explosives on board.
The FBI and other law enforcement cooperated with the investigation in Israel, using technology to track down the origin of the threats, which were received in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.
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Rosenfeld said the suspect used “advanced camouflage technologies” when contacting other countries and making those threats. The FBI said he made the calls from his bedroom.
“He didn’t use regular phone lines. He used different computer systems so he couldn’t be backtracked,” said Rosenfeld, according to The Associated Press.
Investigators were removing items from the suspect’s home in southern Israel, where they reportedly found antennas and satellite equipment. Meanwhile, the suspect appeared Thursday at a court in Rishon Letzion, northwest of Jerusalem.
A public defender said he does not have a criminal record, but has suffered from a brain tumor since he was 14 that appears to effect his cognitive functions. He has been home schooled since the diagnosis and cannot work or serve in the Israel Defense Forces, his attorneys added.
The court granted a request by the suspect’s attorneys to have him undergo a medical evaluation.
Officials also said he called the Israel Police’s emergency number two months ago to falsely claim that bombs were planted in schools across Israel.
U.S. authorities are not expected to seek extradition.
In the first two months of 2017 alone, the Anti-Defamation League has counted at least 150 threats in 37 states made against JCCs as well as Jewish day schools, other Jewish institutions and the ADL’s own offices.
The ADL tweeted Thursday that it was “relieved and thankful” a suspect was caught, and that despite there not being an obvious motive, the “impact of this individual’s actions is crystal clear: These were acts of anti-Semitism.”
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“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,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “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.”
The FBI earlier this month had
made one arrest in the case: a 31-year-old former journalist named Juan Thompson.
Authorities say he made a handful of bomb threats against Jewish groups while posing as his ex-girlfriend as retribution against her. But those threats were described by authorities as a “copycat” case.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s minister of public security, said he hopes the latest arrest “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.”