Teen behind JCC threats suspected of making hoax bomb warnings from jail
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Teen behind JCC threats suspected of making hoax bomb warnings from jail

Police receive over 100 fake announcements of explosives in schools in Tel Aviv and Kfar Saba, leading to evacuations and extensive searches

A Jewish Israeli teen is brought for a court hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court, on suspicion of issuing fake bomb threats against Jewish institutions in the US and around the world, on March 23, 2017. (Flash90)
A Jewish Israeli teen is brought for a court hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court, on suspicion of issuing fake bomb threats against Jewish institutions in the US and around the world, on March 23, 2017. (Flash90)

An Israeli-American teenager accused of waging an intimidation campaign of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers in the United States and other targets around the world last year was accused on Monday of making another 100 hoax bomb threats in Israel from prison.

The 19-year-old, whose name is barred from publication in Israel by court order, holds dual Israeli and US citizenship and is currently imprisoned in Israel, pending his trial.

Police said that on Sunday they received two bomb threats against schools in Tel Aviv and Kfar Saba, which they traced to the teenager, who is being held in the Nitzan prison in Ramle.

However, in a hearing to extend the remand of the teenager on the new charges, police said they had been summoned more than 100 times to several schools, some of which were evacuated as a result of the threats. Each time, police searches of the premises found no trace of bombs.

During police investigations the suspect only partially cooperated, even when recordings of the hoax calls were played back to him.

An Israeli-American teenager, accused of making 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)

In addition to facing a long list of criminal charges in Israel, he has also been indicted on hate crimes charges by the US Department of Justice.

Last year, Israel filed a laundry list of charges against the teenager, who lives in Ashkelon, including accusations that he had made thousands of bomb threat calls and issued other violent warnings to institutions, schools, hospitals, and airlines in numerous countries.

Israeli authorities say the teenager made 245 threatening calls, mostly to community centers and schools in the US, from January to March 2017, using an online calling service that disguised his voice and allowed him to hide his identity.

According to authorities, the teen had offered to sell his threat-making services through an online black market. Court documents unsealed in August linked the teenager to a posting on the now-shuttered illicit marketplace AlphaBay advertising a “School Email Bomb Threat Service.” The poster offered to send customized threats to schools for $30, plus a surcharge if the buyer sought to have someone framed.

His alleged 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.

The threats sent a chill through Jewish communities and raised fears of anti-Semitism.

He was arrested in March 2017 and indicted in Israel.

The suspect’s parents said he has a brain tumor and is on the autistic spectrum, and that these conditions affected his behavior. In May 2017, his lawyer said during an interview with Channel 10 news the suspect had tried to kill himself five times within the span of two weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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