The Israeli police, acting on a request by the FBI, has arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man on suspicion of making dozens of threats against Jewish organizations in the United States, and against airlines in the United States and other countries.
The unnamed teen, who has a dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship, lives in the southern sea-side city of Ashkelon.
The arrest was made after several waves of threats in the past two months against Jewish community centers (JCCs) and other Jewish organizations.
Last year, when he was 18 years old, the IDF declined to draft him after he was found unfit to serve in the military. Reports in the Israeli media say he had been home-schooled by his parents, and that he had never attended any school.
The Israeli police said that he attempted to grab the gun of one of the officers who came to his home to arrest him.
Haaretz reports that the arrest was made after more than a month of investigation by the FBI’s cybercrime unit, and the Israeli police’s cybercrime branch – which acted on tips from the FBI and from the police in Australia and New Zealand.
On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: “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 this country on the basis of their religious beliefs,” Sessions said in a statement. “I commend the FBI and Israeli National Police for their outstanding work on this case.”
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspect’s motives were not yet clear. Rosenfeld, talking to reporters, described the suspect as “the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” adding that the suspect employed sophisticated cybertechnologies to conceal the origin of his calls and communications to synagogues, community centers, and public venues.
The investigation also found that the suspect made threats in New Zealand and Australia.
In a recording of one of the threatening calls, obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the suspect, in a call to Delta airlines, is threatening to kill Jews onboard a flight.
“It’s a C-4 bomb with a lot of shrapnel surrounded by a bag,” the voice on the recording warns. “In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. Their heads are going to [sic] blown off from the shrapnel. There’s a lot of shrapnel. There’s going to be a bloodbath that’s going to take place in a short time. I think I told you enough. I must go.”
The Israeli police seized five computers at the teen’s home, and a large antennas he used to access other people’s networks so he could issue his threats undetected.
The teen’s effort to mask the source of his calls notwithstanding, police cyber investigators in New Zealand and Australia identified the IP address of the computer used as being inside Israel. The suspect also used software which altered the sound of his voice.
Earlier this month, the FBI arrested Juan Thompson, a former journalist, after he was identified as the individual behind right phone threats to Jewish organizations. Thompson made some of the calls in the name of his former partner as part of his campaign to harass her.
For more on Terrorism in the United States: Homeland Security News Wire