Israeli Teenager Arrested In Connection To Bomb Threats Against Jewish Centers
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Israeli police have arrested someone they believe is behind recent bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers across the U.S. The suspect is a Jewish-American Israeli teenager. NPR's Daniel Estrin has more from Jerusalem.
DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Jewish community leaders say in recent months, bomb threats have been called into Jewish institutions in 40 U.S. states. Today, the JTA news site published a recording of one bomb threat called into a Jewish community center. The Anti-Defamation League says the recording's authentic.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It's a C4 bomb.
ESTRIN: It's a C4 bomb, the voice says.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to slaughtered.
ESTRIN: In a short time, the voice says, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. That call was reportedly placed in January. And over the last three months, Israeli police worked with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies around the world to trace similar bomb threats. They zeroed in on an American-Israeli dual national around 19 years old. Micky Rosenfeld is an Israeli police spokesman.
MICKY ROSENFELD: This morning we raided his house. We got hold of materials, computers, equipment, antennas, satellites that he used in order to make those phone calls.
ESTRIN: Sophisticated equipment that police say he used to mask his location and identity. Police say this young Jewish man in Israel, whose name is under gag order, was responsible for dozens of threats to Jewish and public institutions in New Zealand, Australia and Israel. They say in February 2015 he placed a bomb threat to Delta Airlines which grounded two flights at JFK Airport in New York. And police say he was behind the majority of the bomb threats that have targeted Jewish institutions in the U.S. in recent months.
HENRY SALTZMAN: I was astounded.
ESTRIN: That's Henry Saltzman, who belongs to the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan.
SALTZMAN: I had been thinking about some right wing nut, you know, aroused by Trump and his minions on the right. And here out of seemingly nowhere comes this young man, I guess.
ESTRIN: President Trump himself reportedly suggested that these threats could be false flag operations by his opponents. This month, U.S. authorities arrested a man in St. Louis and charged him with making threats against Jewish organizations as part of a cyberstalking campaign against a former romantic partner. Israeli police are still trying to figure out the Israeli suspect's motives.
His lawyer told reporters he didn't attend elementary or high school and suffers from a serious medical condition that may have affected his behavior. Israeli press quote her as saying he has a cancerous growth. Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised the joint U.S.-Israeli investigation that led to his arrest. We will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs, he said. Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Jerusalem.
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