Half a world away, a 19-year-old man was arrested at his home in Israel for allegedly leveling bomb threats against Jewish community centers throughout the U.S., which forced the evacuation of local centers in New Rochelle and Tarrytown late last month.
The arrest was made by Israeli police on March 23, and the name of the teen has not been released. According to Israeli police, his motive remains unclear.
The teen is the second individual arrested in a case involving more than 100 phone threats. On March 3, Juan Thompson, a former journalist from Missouri, was charged with one count of cyber stalking and is believed to be responsible for at least eight of the threats. Authorities do not believe Thompson and the teen are connected.
According to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the teen used satellite equipment and advanced computer technology to obscure his identity and location. The FBI investigated more than 100 calls made as part of an ongoing hoax within the last two months, concluding in the arrest of the teen on March 23 at his home in the city of Ashkelon, located along the southern coast of Israel.
“It should be noted that a large number of law and order organizations throughout the world collaborated professionally with the Israeli police, which enabled a coordinated, cross-border investigation integrating the technological know-how of multiple enforcement bodies,” Rosenfeld said in a statement.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions echoed Rosenfeld’s comments, citing the cooperation among each country’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
“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,” Sessions said. “I commend the FBI and Israeli National Police for their outstanding work on this case.”
While all of the threats across the country proved to be hoaxes, the scare made national news headlines, with “#IStandWiththeJCC” trending across social media platforms. Growing anxiety prompted President Donald Trump to address the issue in his first address to Congress on Feb. 28.
At the 999 Wilmot Road location in New Rochelle, Karen Kolodny, the executive director of JCC of Mid-Westchester, said that about 200 people were evacuated from the building on Feb. 27, including 100 staff members and adult patrons and roughly 100 children, only two hours after the Tarrytown center was evacuated after receiving similar threats. No injuries were reported during either evacuation.
In a recent statement released by JCC of Mid-Westchester, Kolodny remarked on the recent outpour of community support.
“We are grateful for the remarkable support we have received from local civic, political and faith-based community leaders, and extend once again our appreciation for their commitment to helping make the JCC of Mid-Westchester, a welcoming community convener,” Kolodny said.