U.S. indicts serial Jewish community bomb hoaxer for hate crimes

Justice Department statement does not say whether 19-year-old Israeli citizen would be extradited to the United States.

March 1, 2018 05:10
2 minute read.
JCC bomb threats suspect

JCC bomb threats suspect. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A 19-year-old man has been indicted for hate crimes connected to threats against Jewish community centers, as well as threatening the Israeli embassy and cyberstalking, the US Justice Department said on Wednesday.

The suspect, whose name is still under a gag order in Israel was arrested in Israel last year and is awaiting trial there. US and Israeli authorities have previously charged him with making thousands of threats, including to airports, schools and Jewish centers, in the United States in 2016 and early 2017.

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The man, who holds dual US-Israeli citizenship, was indicted by grand juries in Florida, Georgia and the District of Columbia for making threats from January to March 2017, the Justice Department said in a statement.

The statement did not say whether he would be extradited to the United States.

He is alleged to have telephoned the Anti-Defamation League with a bomb threat and making a bomb threat in an email to the Israeli embassy in Washington, both in March 2017, the Justice Department said.

The suspect, who is Jewish, was indicted for allegedly calling police in January 2017 about a hoax hostage situation at a home in Athens, Georgia, which included a threat to kill responding officers. He also faces a federal cyberstalking indictment in Georgia.

In Florida, the man was charged with making multiple threatening calls about bomb threats and gun attacks against Jewish community centers throughout the state in January and February 2017. He also is alleged to have made bomb threats against the Orlando International Airport and a school.

The hoax threats to the Jewish community centers forced widespread evacuations and raised fears of a resurgence in antisemitism.

 Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department K-9 officers search the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada after an employee received a suspicious phone call that led about 10 people to evacuate the building on February 27, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

US authorities have said in court documents that the suspect advertised his services on AlphaBay, a now-closed online black market, and offered to threaten any school for $30. The Justice Department shut AlphBay down in July 2017.

Israeli authorities have accused him of earning about $240,000 worth of the digital currency Bitcoin after selling his threat services on the dark web.

The suspect's parents have said he has a brain tumor that caused autism and other mental problems, making him unable to understand the nature of his actions.

If convicted, the man faces up to 20 years in prison for each hate crime charge and a maximum of 10 years for each bomb threat charge. The interstate threats charge, the hoax charge and cyberstalking charge call for up to five years in prison apiece.
Mother of suspected JCC bomb hoaxer gives apology on April 23, 2017 (REUTERS)

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