US backs off extradition of JCC hoax bomber, may wait for Israeli trial

The US and Israel have strong extradition agreements that apply in most cases, the Justice Ministry decided in April that this case was exceptional.

By
February 6, 2018 08:13
2 minute read.
A police officer blocks an entrance as officials respond to a bomb threat at the Jewish Community Ce

A police officer blocks an entrance as officials respond to a bomb threat at the Jewish Community Center in Louisville, Kentucky.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The US has backed away from seeking extradition of the so-called “JCC hoax bomber,” but may seek to have him extradited and tried in the US after he faces trial in Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

In April, the Post confirmed that the Justice Ministry initially rejected an informal request by the US to extradite the defendant for trial in the US in the Jewish Community Center bomb-threat case.

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However, the US never made a public announcement reversing its initial public statement that it would seek to prosecute the defendant in US courts, which would require extradition.

It has also never announced its likely back-up plan, to circle back to Israel to request his extradition after his Israeli trial.

A spokeswoman for the US Department of Justice responded to questions about the case by saying, “As a matter of policy, we generally do not comment on whether or not the United States has made an extradition request. We continue to work with the government of Israel concerning [the defendant].” The defendant’s name is under gag order.

While this answer did not publicly confirm or deny what the Post has learned, the US has not continued to publicly press the issue, even as the Israeli trial has proceeded. The US also indirectly confirmed that it might seek the defendant’s extradition in the future.

The defendant was indicted in the Tel Aviv District Court in April for a series of more than 2,000 bomb threats and related actions against Jewish institutions, along with airports and police stations in the US and other countries.

The Ashkelon teenager is also charged with trying to blackmail senior US public officials, according to the prosecution’s cyber-division that filed the indictment.

Although the US and Israel have strong extradition agreements that apply in most cases, the Justice Ministry decided in April that this case was exceptional.

There were many reasons for initially rejecting the informal US extradition request, despite a huge number of the bomb threats being made in the US.

One of the most distinctive reasons was that the defendant allegedly committed crimes in a large number of countries including Australia, New Zealand and countries in Europe.

From that perspective, the trial needs to be in one place, though in the past, defendants have faced trials in two locations for different crimes.

If the trial must occur in one place, the ministry views Israel as the most logical location. All of the crimes were committed while the defendant was in Israel, even if the effects were felt all over the world.

Further, some of the crimes, including weapons possession and attacking a police officer are specifically tied to Israel.

The defendant was a minor when he committed the crimes and minors are usually not extradited. Another consideration is the claim of various physical and mental problems, which also makes extradition problematic.

At the time, Israel said that despite its initial rejection of the US extradition request, it could conceivably reconsider its position and decide to drop certain charges from its indictment.

Currently, the indictment includes all charges for actions in all countries, including the US. That would preclude any trial in the US on grounds of double jeopardy – that no person can be tried twice for the same crimes.

Several large American Jewish organizations have demanded the defendant be tried in the US, indicating Israel may face pressure on the issue from multiple fronts.


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