A judge on Thursday extended the remand for the third time of the teenaged Israeli-American Ashkelon resident arrested last month for allegedly issuing the majority of bogus bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States and around the world.The 18-year-old suspect, whose name remains under gag order, was arrested on March 23 following an extensive investigation by the Israel Police, in coordination with the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies.Following his arraignment, a Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court judge extended his remand a second time on March 30, while his unidentified father, who was also arrested for allegedly being aware of the threats, was released to house arrest.
The father, who works in hi-tech, claimed he was uninformed of the bomb threats allegedly sent from a computer in his son’s bedroom.On Thursday afternoon, the judge presiding over the case extended the teenager’s remand until April 18, amid an ongoing investigation by the police’s cybercrimes unit.The defendant’s lawyer, Shira Nir, has stated that her client has an inoperable brain tumor, as well as autism and other severe behavioral issues.On Monday, the suspect’s father issued an apology to American Jews, but said his son’s actions were motivated by mental illness.“To all the Jews in the United States, I want to convey an unequivocal message: We are very sorry, from the bottom of our hearts,” he said on Channel 2. “We are good Jews, we do not hate you. There was no hatred here. He was motivated solely by the disease.”According to police, the teen, who is the only child of an Israeli-born father and American mother, was born in Israel but lived in California until he was six years old.In a phone interview with The Jerusalem Post, the teenager’s mother echoed her husband’s words.“When someone has a tumor in the middle of their brain, there is no reason, there is no logic, there is a dysfunction,” she said.She described her son as having mental and social disabilities, but high cognitive abilities, allowing him to purportedly perpetrate the threats without being aware of their consequences.He was home-schooled and reclusive, having little contact with the outside world except for through his multiple computers, she said.Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this report.
US-Israeli teen arrested for bomb threats to JCCs (credit: REUTERS)