Questions remain after arrest of Jewish center bomb threats suspect

Anti-white tweets, harassment at center of JCC case.

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March 6, 2017 06:47
Juan Thompson

Juan Thompson. (photo credit: TWITTER)

 
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Juan Thompson, a 31-yearold from St. Louis, was charged with one count of cyberstalking in the Southern District of New York, according to an indictment from last Wednesday.

The complaint begins with the stalking of “victim-1,” who ended a romantic relationship with Thompson “on or about July 26, 2016.

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St. Louis man charged over bomb threats to Jewish groups

The victim obtained a New York state order of protection against Thompson, which was renewed in October and December 2016.”

The complaint says that on October 11, a company employing the victim “received two faxes from anonymous senders stating in substance and in part that victim-1 was antisemitic.”

The complaint mentions social media in the context of the claim of antisemitism, months before the alleged threats began.

In November, St. Louis police interviewed Thompson, and on November 22, a detective with the New York Police Department called and spoke with Thompson. “The detective told Thompson that Thompson’s conduct must stop.”

The FBI complaint notes that “it appears that Juan Thompson, the defendant, has made at least eight JCC threats nationwide as part of his campaign of harassment against victim-1.” The threats were made in both the victim’s name and “appear to have been made in Thompson’s own name,” but which Thompson said was an “effort to falsely implicate Thompson.”



The arrest comes amid five waves of threats to Jewish institutions that began on January 9.

The alleged Thompson threats appear to be part of the third and fourth wave of threats made on February 1 and February 21. But it leaves a mystery as to who was making the other threats, and the emails don’t fit the wider pattern of use of phones.

On February 1, a Jewish school in Farmington Hills, Michigan, received an emailed threat involving a reference to a mass school shooting, and a Jewish school in Manhattan received threats. On February 7, an emailed bomb threat to a JCC in Manhattan. The threats in the victim’s name began on February 21 via an email to the Anti-Defamation League and then a phone call the following day threatening a bombing. The complaint also notes the Council on American-Islamic Relations received an email on February 21 alleging a bomb had been put at the JCC in Dallas. On February 20 an email was sent to the San Diego JCC.

Thompson’s arrest leaves many questions. If he is alleged to be involved with “at least eight” threats on Jewish institutions, why is he only charged with cyberstalking?

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in response to an inquiry from The Jerusalem Post that “We understand that other charges are pending. Specific charges will depend on the outcome of the investigation and a determination by the Justice Department.”

The US Attorney’s Office says that he was charged with “allegedly stalking a former romantic interest by, among other things, making bomb threats in her name to JCCs and to the ADL.” An inquiry to the FBI New York Press Office was unanswered as of press time.

“A white woman I used to date and love told the FBI that I hated white ppl and wanted to bomb them,” the @Juan- MThompson Twitter account says on February 10.

Doyle Murphy at The River Front Times is St. Louis revealed that “before bomb threats, Juan Thompson unravalled and terrorized an RFT reporter.” Murphy claims that Thompson emailed him hate mail. “Then came the fake Twitter accounts... there isn’t a whole hell of a lot you can do. Police told me I had, at best a pretty weak harassment case.”

The @JuanMThompson Twitter account is evidence of a worldview infused with anti-white notions, claiming “white ppl are trash” February 26), and “white folk are trash” (February 18), and in December 2016, “I’m just a poor black man trying to do my part on the ground and not on Twitter, to destroy white ppl.” There was a particular animus toward white women; one November 8 tweet reads “70% of white women voted for Trump. Look at your partner at next Brooklyn brunch. White women. Yuck.”

In the few mentions of Jews, Thompson’s Twitter ostensibly defended Jewish people against antisemitism. After gravestones were pushed over in Philadelphia he tweeted on February 26: “and ppl says Jews don’t face bigotry and violence. How would you feel if nasty white ppl destroyed MLK’s gravesite?” The Twitter account was also full of criticism of Donald Trump, comparing his election victory to Hitler’s.

The ADL seems confident this is his Twitter account.

Its press center also now says that the “new bomb threats to JCCs do not appear credible.”

We may never know what motivated the suspect to allegedly engage in threats to JCCs. “We cannot explain the alleged perpetrator’s motivations for making bomb threats. We do not know what is in people’s hearts and minds. But whatever his alleged motivation, it led to an anti-Semitic incident that terrorized people across the country. Moreover, we are concerned that the current charged environment can inspire other deranged individuals to commit even more such crimes. As has been widely reported, we have seen an uptick in bias incidents and hate crimes across the US since last fall. This has included a surge of anti-Semitic incidents, including 121 bomb threats and three cemetery desecrations in recent weeks,” says Greenblatt.

If it was purely a copy-cat issue, then why did an October email reference antisemitism? The inability of law enforcement to prosecute for harassment last year shows holes in their ability to put a stop to serious threats against women and journalists until it escalated to threats against Jewish institutions.

Greenblatt reminds us to remain vigilant. “Based on our 2016 analysis, we found that 14 percent of the US population harbors deeply ingrained anti-Semitic attitudes. We are encouraged that this number has not changed perceptibly in recent years as it indicates that American Jews are well-considered by the general population, even deeply admired for our achievements. However, the ADL is engaged in close contact with law enforcement officials at the federal level and across the country. They share our concern that the current environment can embolden extremists.  For these reasons, we must remain vigilant to protect our community in the face against those who seek to promote anti-Semitic ideas and actions.”

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