Teen with dual Israeli-American citizenship arrested in Israel for JCC bomb threats

(JTA – A teen with dual Israeli and American citizenship who lives in Ashkelon in southern Israel was arrested on suspicion of carrying out more than 100 bomb threats on Jewish institutions in the United States and Canada.

The suspect, 19, was arrested by Israel’s anti-fraud squad and his home searched on Thursday. He also is accused of a series of threats made in Europe, Australia and New Zealand in the last six months, according to reports in Israel.

Israeli Police said the teen has been the subject of months-long undercover investigation by police’s Lahav 433 anti-fraud unit, as well as the FBI in the United States, and law enforcement in other countries.

He was scheduled to appear in court in Rishon LeTzion on Thursday for a remand hearing.

The army refused to draft the teen, who has lived in Israel for many years, after finding him unfit for service, Haaretz reported.

His father also has been detained, on suspicion that he knew about his son’s activities, according to the Jerusalem Post.

His motives are unknown, according to reports.

He reportedly used advanced technology and voice-altering equipment to call in the threats to more than 100 JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish institutions in North America, according to the Times of Israel.

During the cyber unit’s raid on the teen’s home, police found a computer lab with sophisticated equipment, encryption and transmission systems, and a powerful antenna, according to reports.

While he will be indicted in Israel it is likely that the U.S. will request his extradition to be tried in court there.

He also is accused of making a threatening call to Delta Airlines, leading to the emergency landing of one of its planes.

Earlier this month, St. Louis resident and former journalist Juan Thompson was arrested and charged for making at least eight bomb threats against Jewish community centers and the Anti-Defamation League. Thompson, 31, made some of the threats in the name of a former romantic partner he had been cyberstalking and some in his own in an attempt to portray himself as being framed. He was charged with cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan commented on the arrest.

“I congratulate the Israeli Police on leading a complex international investigation, together with law enforcement agencies from around the world, which led to the arrest of the suspect,” said Erdan. “We hope that this investigation 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.”

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