23:33 GMT17 May 2021
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    A 19-year-old American-Israeli student was arrested Thursday on charges that he was behind the majority of threats called into Jewish centers, synagogues and schools in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand over the past six months.

    Additionally, the man’s father has been ordered to be detained for eight days on suspicion that he knew about or also called in many of the threats. He denies any involvement in or knowledge of his son’s actions.

    A lawyer for the teen, who was apprehended in Ashkelon in southern Israel, has claimed that his behavior is related to a brain tumor, which caused him to be rejected by the Israeli Defense Force.

    “He suffers from a brain tumor that may have had an effect on his cognitive functions,” his lawyer, Galit Bash, said in a statement released by the Office of the Israeli Public Defender.

    The investigation was complicated, as the teen, who has not yet been named, was using “advanced camouflage technologies” to hide his identity. It has been confirmed that he holds both American and Israeli citizenship.

    “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,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

    One of the threats believed to have been made by the teenager was to Delta Airlines in 2015, which led to the plane having to make an emergency landing.

    The US alone has had more than 100 bomb threats in 33 states at Jewish establishments this year.

    "The investigation began in several countries at the same time, in which dozens of threatening calls were received at public places, events, synagogues and community buildings that caused panic and disrupted events and activities in various organisations," a statement from the Israeli police said.

    On March 3, Juan Thompson, 31, a former reporter for the Intercept, was arrested for making eight of the calls, in a what appears to have been an attempt to frame an ex-girlfriend.

    Thompson reportedly made his first threats on January 28, using both his and his ex-girlfriend’s name. He also created a fake email address to make it seem as if his ex-girlfriend was setting him up as the perpetrator behind the threats.

    In an email to the San Diego JCC, Thompson allegedly wrote that his ex-girlfriend "hates Jewish people and is the head of a ring and put a bomb in the center to kill as many Jews asap.”

    Thompson was fired from the Intercept after publishing false stories, impersonating the outlet’s editor-in-chief Betsy Reed and creating email accounts to fabricate fake sources.


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