An Israeli-American teen suspected of calling in hundreds of fake bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other institutions in the US was ordered to remain behind bars for an additional week on Thursday, as his lawyer said a brain tumor may have caused his behavior.
The 18-year-old from Ashkelon is facing charges of extortion, making threats, publishing false information and is accused of sowing widespread fear and panic.
The suspect’s father, who was detained by police along with his son over suspicions he turned a blind eye to his son’s illegal activities, was released by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court to house arrest.
The name of the suspect is under gag order and details about him or his possible motive remain unclear.
His lawyer, Shira Nir, told the court the 18-year-old suffers from a non-malignant brain tumor that causes behavioral issues, and may have led him to wrongdoing through no fault of his own.
She showed the court an image of what appeared to be a tumor on the right side of his brain, but gave no medical details.
“The tumor is in a place where it’s very dangerous to operate,” she told the court, while also saying he suffered from autism.
“He’s as smart as an adult of 50-plus, with the behavior of a 5-year-old,” she said after the hearing.
Nir said the teen had fallen asleep at one point as police questioned him and officers handled him roughly, resulting in bruises on his face.
Police denied the accusations.
The judge ordered police to provide the prison service with his medical records after Nir said guards had not been made aware of his condition.
The suspect is a resident of southern Israel and a dual US-Israeli citizen.
Police say he is behind a range of threats against Jewish community centers and other buildings linked to Jewish communities in the United States in recent months, and is alleged to have made hundreds of threatening phone calls over the past two years, targeting schools and other public institutions in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
He is also suspected of being behind at least two threats to Delta Airlines, resulting in the grounding of planes already in the air.
Police said he used voice-disguising technology when making calls. Authorities seized computer equipment and other items when arresting him last week.