The AP is reporting that Israeli law enforcement has caught the person who has been calling bomb threats into Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, and Jewish American civic organizations throughout the US.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man as the primary suspect in a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers and other institutions in the U.S., marking a potential breakthrough in the case.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld described the suspect as a hacker, but said his motives were still unclear. Israeli media identified him as an American-Israeli dual citizen and said he had been found unfit for compulsory service in the Israeli military.
“He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” Rosenfeld said, referring to the dozens of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the U.S. over the past two months.
The FBI, which had taken part in the investigation, confirmed the arrest but had no other comment.
Israeli police described the local man as the primary suspect in the wave of threats.
Israeli police said the suspect made dozens of calls claiming to have placed bombs in public places and private companies, causing panic and “significant economic damage,” and disrupting public order, including by the hurried evacuations of a number of public venues around the world. The man is suspected of placing threatening phone calls to Australia, New Zealand and also within Israel.
Rosenfeld said the man, from the south of Israel, used advanced technologies to mask the origin of his calls and communications to synagogues, community buildings and public venues. He said police searched his house Thursday morning and discovered antennas and satellite equipment.
“He didn’t use regular phone lines. He used different computer systems so he couldn’t be backtracked,” Rosenfeld said.
While it is unclear what the motive is at this time, “found unfit for compulsory service in the Israeli military” does not exactly inspire confidence in the suspects mental health. Back in February I wrote:
We’ve got some knucklehead who gets his gratification calling these in and seeing the news coverage. He may or may not be a hard core anti-Semite, but he’s basically in it for ego gratification. And based on decades of criminological research into deviance, delinquency, and offending, it is highly likely it is a he. So step up your game ladies! He may or may not even be in the US, given VOIP technology. And he may never intend to do anything but make these calls.
I think this is what we have with this suspect. Whether it is untreated mental health issues or some other driver, he pretty much fits. And the untreated mental health issues would explain a Jewish Israeli-American calling in threats to Jewish American organizations. The problem, however, comes in now that this genius has let the cat out of the bag. As I also wrote in that same post back in February:
Or, also even worse, he never intends to escalate beyond calling in the threats, but someone else who does want to do real, physical damage to property and harm to people does. This individual or individuals waits until the coverage begins to drop off because the calls are every week or every other week like clockwork and the local news decides it needs to cover something more important. And then this person that wants to cause real harm and actually hurt people decides its time to strike because complacency has set in and some synagogue or JCC isn’t going to take the threat as seriously.
And I fully expect that this pattern will at some point be fully extended to mosques and Hispanic and Asian churches, as well as Sikh temples. I know that the Hispanic and Asian churches in my area have seen an increase in both vandalism and threats, just as the synagogues and mosques have, because they are viewed as immigrant places (of worship) and therefore acceptable targets despite being churches.
The perpetrator of the calls has been caught, but it remains to be seen what he has ultimately wrought.