In the fourth round of calls this year, 11 Jewish community centers in 7 states -- including the center in Albuquerque, pictured -- received hoax threats on Monday about explosive devices on their property. In each case, the centers were evacuated, searched and found to be clear. Photo by KOAT-TV
Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Another wave of bomb threats was called in to Jewish community centers across the United States on Monday, marking the fourth morning this year that hoax calls were received by multiple centers in several states.
Federal authorities are investigating at least 11 calls made to Jewish centers in seven states on Monday morning warning of hoax bombs on their property, with each center evacuated, searched and determined to be safe -- as happened three times in January.
With Monday's hoax calls, there have now been 69 threats made in four waves against 54 community centers in 27 states, in addition to others made in Canada and Britain, since the new year.
After the first round of hoax calls on Jan. 9, community centers around the United States put in place evacuation procedures -- which were used on Jan. 19, again on Jan. 31 and on Monday.
"We are confident that JCCs around the country are taking the necessary security protections, and that law enforcement officials are making their investigation of these threats a high priority," Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a press release. "We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law."
Monday's threats -- in Buffalo and Amherst, New York, Cleveland, Houston, Tampa, St. Paul, Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay, Wisc., Nashville, and Albuquerque -- were the same as others before: Centers received calls claiming a bomb was located somewhere on their property, the buildings were evacuated and searched by police and bomb-sniffing dogs, and nothing was found.
The Department of Homeland Security has been collecting information about the calls and disseminating it among law enforcement agencies so they all "can see that these calls are going on and respond accordingly."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation also has an active investigation into the calls as civil rights violations, but officials at the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, are calling on President Donald Trump and other leaders to speak out more forcefully against the rising anti-Semitism in the country.
The comments come as Trump has been criticized for failing to respond to an increase in anti-Semitic acts, including the bomb threats, and was slow to disavow them when pushed by reporters during a fiery Feb. 16 press conference.
"On two separate occasions over the past two days, President Trump has refused to say what he is going to do about rising anti-Semitism or to even condemn it," the Anti-Defamation League's national chairperson, Marvin Nathan, and CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement. "It is mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction."
Monday night, the White House denounced the series of bomb threats, after Ivanka Trump -- she and her husband, Jared Kushner, are Orthodox Jews -- tweeted that "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC."
"Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom," said White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters. "The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable."