- REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
An 19-year-old man has been arrested in Israel over a series of bomb threats made to Jewish community centers worldwide over a six-month period, according to The Jerusalem Post.
A US-Israeli citizen, the man is reportedly suspected of carrying out bomb threats and other threats across the US as well as in Europe, in Australia, and in New Zealand. The man is Jewish, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
“Sources indicate that most of the cases of threats against Jewish communities and organizations, though not all, led investigators back to Israel,” The Jerusalem Post reports.
It seems the suspect was born outside Israel, as The Jerusalem Post article says he “made aliya,” a term used to describe immigration to Israel. The newspaper reports he “is not in the IDF, not ultra-Orthodox … and possibly has psychological and social problems.”
The suspect’s father has also been arrested and is being questioned by Israeli authorities. An Israeli court ruled Thursday, after the arrests were announced, that “there is strong evidence that father of suspect involved in most crimes,” Jerusalem Post legal analyst Yonah Jeremy Bob reports.
The court found that the father made “many of the threatening phone calls,” according to Bob, and that the mother is not a suspect.
Israel reportedly intends to indict the 19-year-old in the country’s courts and, according to The Jerusalem Post, it’s unknown whether the US or other countries will look to extradite the suspect. The investigation was led by Israel with the help of the FBI and police officers from other countries, according to the AP.
“Today’s arrest in Israel is the culmination of a large-scale investigation spanning multiple continents for hate crimes against Jewish communities across our country,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in the country on the basis of their religious beliefs. I commend the FBI and Israeli National Police on their outstanding work on this case.”
The FBI released the following statement as well:
FBI statement on the arrest in Israel in connection with threats to Jewish organizations. pic.twitter.com/FDQ00lZ08l
— FBI (@FBI) March 23, 2017
Attacks and threats against the US Jewish community have increased since President Donald Trump’s election in November.
“At least 100 Jewish community centers and schools in 33 states have reported bomb and other threats this year,” AFP reported in early March.
Additionally, hundreds of gravestones in Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized in the US.
Former Intercept reporter Juan Thompson was arrested by the FBI on March 3 in connection with bomb threats made to at least eight Jewish community centers and schools and the Anti-Defamation League’s Manhattan headquarters.
Michelle Mark contributed reporting to this article. This article has been updated to reflect new reports of the suspect’s age.