Jewish American leaders on Friday met with FBI chief James Comey to discuss the wave of threats against the community in recent months and the first arrest of a suspect in some of the bomb hoaxes.
“This morning, leadership from the Jewish community met with FBI Director Comey and the senior leadership team of the FBI to discuss the range of threats that have been directed against Jewish institutions in the past two months,” said a statement from the JCC Association of North America leadership.
“The conversation encompassed the current situation and potential strategies for future collaboration,” it said.
The meeting came after five waves of bomb threats to Jewish community centers and other institutions nationwide, totaling over 100 incidents. Other anti-Semitic attacks, including cemetery desecrations, have also sparked deep concern in Jewish communities.
The meeting also came as Federal officials announced the arrest of Juan Thompson, 31, said to be behind eight of the telephoned bomb threats. Officials said that the threats were made as a campaign to harass a former girlfriend, using her name to make some of the threats.
“All the organizations in attendance expressed the deep gratitude of the entire community for the extraordinary effort that the FBI is applying to the ongoing investigation,” the statement said.
JCC President and CEO Doron Krakowa lso gave thanks for Thompson’s arrest, but called for additional efforts to find the people behind all the other threats.
“We trust that the perpetrators behind all of the threats will be swiftly identified and brought to justice,” he said.
Police told CNN that no one had been arrested for the series of robocalls to dozens of other JCCs and the investigation was ongoing.
The Anti-Defamation League, which was specifically targeted by Thompson, also welcomed the arrest.
The organization was “relieved and gratified that the FBI has made an arrest in these cases. We applaud law enforcement’s unwavering effort to resolve this matter,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, adding that the organization was “looking forward to the quick resolution of the remaining open cases.”
We are grateful for federal, state, local law enforcement's efforts and response. Follow us for live updates. More: https://t.co/VM4NGQo06n
— ADL (@ADL_National) March 3, 2017
Thompson was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri and was set to appear in a Missouri court later Friday on one count of cyberstalking.
According to the FBI, on February 21, he sent an email to the ADL naming his ex-girlfriend as the person making the bomb threats. Then, on February 22, he made a phone call to the ADL saying there was C-4 explosives in the ADL’s New York office that would be “detonated within one hour.”
Searches of the building revealed nothing.
Thompson was also allegedly responsible for threats to Jewish centers in Dallas and San Diego, the Jewish History Museum and a Jewish school in Manhattan.
In one call to a Jewish school in Michigan that was made in Thompson’s name, the caller said he was “eager for a Jewish Newtown” referencing the massacre in Newton, Connecticut in which 20 children were murdered.
Thompson, a former journalist, was fired from the online publication The Intercept last year after being accused of fabricating several quotes and creating fake email accounts to impersonate people, including the Intercept’s editor-in-chief. One of the falsified stories involved Dylann Roof, the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter.
The Intercept wrote Friday: “We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson, a former employee of The Intercept, has been arrested in connection with bomb threats against the ADL and multiple Jewish Community Centers in addition to cyberstalking. These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted.”
The ADL said Friday that Thompson had been on its radar since he fabricated the story about Roof. According to ADL research, Thompson claimed that he wanted to dismantle the system of “racial supremacy and greedy capitalism that is stacked against us.” He said he was going to run for mayor of St. Louis last year to “fight back against Trumpian fascism and socio-economic terrorism.”
He created a GoFundMe page to raise $5,000 for his election bid. He got $25, the ADL said.