JCC hoax bomber said to try to snatch guard’s gun, flee
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JCC hoax bomber said to try to snatch guard’s gun, flee

20-year-old reportedly restrained by officers and returned to prison after trying to escape custody during medical checkup

M., an Israeli-American who was convicted of hoaxing JCCs and other targets around the world with thousands of bomb threats, arrives at the Tel Aviv District Court for his sentencing on November 22, 2018. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)
M., an Israeli-American who was convicted of hoaxing JCCs and other targets around the world with thousands of bomb threats, arrives at the Tel Aviv District Court for his sentencing on November 22, 2018. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

An American-Israeli man convicted of making thousands of bombs threats to Jewish community centers in the United States and other targets around the world reportedly tried to snatch a prison officer’s gun during an escape attempt on Wednesday.

M., whose full name is withheld by a gag order in Israel, has been held in custody since his arrest in March 2017 and in November was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

According to the Walla news site, during a medical checkup at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin on Wednesday, M. tried to grab the gun of one of the prison guards accompanying him after they removed his handcuffs and leg shackles.

The guards were able restrain M. and again put him in restraints before returning him to Nitzan Prison in Ramle, the report said.

M., a 20-year-old from the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, previously managed to briefly escape from custody in February 2018 before he was caught by guards from the Israel Prisons Service.

He has been diagnosed with autism and also suffers from a brain tumor, which his parents and attorney argue impacted his behavior.

An American-Israeli Jewish teenager, accused of making dozens of anti-Semitic bomb threats in the United States and elsewhere, is escorted by police as he leaves a courtroom in Rishon Lezion on March 23, 2017. (AFP/Jack Guez)

M. was found guilty in June of hundreds of counts of extortion, publishing false information that caused panic, computer offenses and money laundering, among other charges.

Authorities say he made thousands of threatening calls, mostly to community centers and schools in the US, from 2015 to 2017, using an online calling service that disguised his voice and allowed him to hide his identity. He also targeted hundreds of airlines and airports, malls and police stations in the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Britain, and tried to extort Republican State Senator Ernesto Lopez from Delaware.

In addition to the bomb threats, M. offered his extortion services through an online black market. Court documents unsealed in August linked him to a post on the now-shuttered illicit marketplace AlphaBay advertising a “School Email Bomb Threat Service.” The ad offered to send customized threats to schools for $30, plus a surcharge if the buyer seeks to have someone framed.

His threats caused fighter jets to scramble, planes to dump fuel and make emergency landings, schools to evacuate and numerous other chaotic consequences. In some cases, he allegedly threatened to execute children he claimed to be holding hostage.

Illustrative: The Albany JCC closed briefly due to a bomb scare, January 18, 2017. (Screenshot from Twitter via JTA)

M. has admitted to making some 2,000 fake bomb threat calls to hospitals, airlines, schools and various Jewish institutions out of boredom.

The hoax bomb threats, which came in the midst of a far-right surge in the US, sent a chill through Jewish communities and raised fears of anti-Semitism.

In addition to facing a long jail sentence in Israel, M. has been indicted on hate crimes charges by the US Department of Justice that would carry a hefty prison term there.

In October, the Tel Aviv District Court issued a fresh batch of indictments against M., charging him with making three additional hoax threats from prison and for attempting to escape police custody.

M’s attorney last month appealed the 10-year prison sentence, arguing that there were substantial flaws in Israeli authorities’ interrogation and prosecution of his client.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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