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Israel arrests teen linked to bomb threats at U.S. Jewish institutions

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Israeli Police arrested a teenager with dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship in Israel on Thursday in connection to bomb threats made on Jewish institutions in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The J in St. Louis, Mo., was targeted twice this year, though it is unclear if the unnamed teenager was involved in those threats. Photo courtesy Google Maps/Google Earth
Israeli Police arrested a teenager with dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship in Israel on Thursday in connection to bomb threats made on Jewish institutions in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The J in St. Louis, Mo., was targeted twice this year, though it is unclear if the unnamed teenager was involved in those threats. Photo courtesy Google Maps/Google Earth

March 23 (UPI) -- Israeli Police said they arrested a Jewish teenager with dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship in Israel on Thursday in connection to bomb threats made on Jewish institutions in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

"A resident of the south was arrested on suspicion of committing extortion offenses by threats and publishing false information in various countries," Israeli police said in a statement. "The investigation was conducted in conjunction with FBI and police representatives from around the world."

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Israeli Police said the 19-year-old suspect "caused significant economic damage and implications for public order, including the rapid evacuation of civilians in a number of public sites and institutions around the world."

Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspect used "advanced camouflage technologies" to cover his tracks. The suspect is from the the Ashkelon area of southern Israel.

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Officials said Israeli Police officers confiscated computers when they searched the suspect's home.

Jewish community centers throughout the United States reported more than 100 bomb threats since the beginning of the year, causing evacuations and bomb sweeps, and heightening worries about anti-Semitism in the United States.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised the FBI and Israeli Police for their efforts.

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"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," 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."

The Anti Defamation League said it was "relieved and thankful to law enforcement for arresting suspect in bomb threats to Jewish institutions."

Officials said this case is separate from the one in which Juan M. Thompson was arrested earlier this month. Thompson is accused of making at least eight threats against Jewish support organizations in the United States this year in the name of his ex-girlfriend to harass and intimidate her, the Justice Department said.

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Several Jewish cemeteries have also been vandalized since the beginning of the year.

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