Israel’s Cyberattack unit arrested a man, aged 18 or 19 on Thursday in the coastal city of Askelon suspected of making bomb threats to a large number of Jewish institutions in the United States and abroad, as well as shopping malls and a Delta airlines flight, which was forced to make an emergency landing
Some institutions received multiple threats, and each time they were forced to evacuate their members, staff and students — many of them children and senior citizens — so law enforcement could sweep the premises for bombs. These threats left many communities fearful and concerned for the safety of themselves and their friends and families.
Police say the man they took into custody is the main suspect in these crimes, and a struggle ensued when he attempted to grab the gun of one of the officers while being taken into custody. His father was also detained for questioning. Few other details about him are available at this time, only that he was born in the U.S., but subsequently moved to Israel where he was homeschooled by his parents and considered unfit to serve by the Israeli army.
The bomb threats were made using a voice distorter and the suspect is said to have used wireless service from multiple neighbors so calls would not be traced back to his address.
Police completed a search of his home on Thursday, which yielded computers, antennas and additional equipment consistent with those needed to perpetrate telephone bomb threats.
The man’s motives are unknown, but Israeli police questioned him on Thursday and were “looking to see if there was an incident which triggered him to carry out threatening those communities.”
Israel, which has labelled this case 801, is planning to indict the man. At this time there is no word on any extradition efforts by the other countries affected by his alleged crimes.
The police and FBI in the United States were able to arrest one copycat. Juan Thompson had emailed threats to Jewish schools and community centers in a bizarre attempt to frame his ex-girlfriend.
There may be additional copycats out there and the FBI has said they will remain vigilant, and “will continue to work to make sure all races and religions feel safe in their communities and in their places of worship.”