Police in Israel credit President Donald Trump for sending 12 FBI cyber-crime investigators to assist in the arrest of an Israeli-American teen who had made a series of bomb threats against Jewish institutions in the United States. The so-far unnamed 19-year-old man of Ashkelon had been issuing cyberattacks for the last two years, but his arrest was given a high priority once Trump took office and the FBI agreed to do whatever it could to find the perpetrator.
The man was arrested on March 23 in Israel after making hundreds of threats, many of which went unreported by the press. But when he realized that calls to Jewish community centers received media attention, he doubled down on his threats. So far, the U.S. has not issued an extradition request.
An audio of one of the calls, obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, revealed one of his threats in which he stated:
"It’s a C-4 bomb with a lot of shrapnel, surrounded by a bag (inaudible). In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. Their heads are going to [sic] blown off from the shrapnel. There’s a lot of shrapnel. There’s going to be a bloodbath that’s going to take place in a short time. I think I told you enough. I must go."
Reuters contributed to this report.
The father of the teen suspect was also arrested and is being questioned. An Israeli judged order that both of them should remain in custody for eight more days. Also, a psychological analysis has been ordered for the teen. The Israeli army refused to draft him after finding him unfit for duty. His motivations for issuing threats to places in the U.S., Israel, and other countries are currently unknown.
At least five computers has been confiscated, along with antennas he used to access his neighbors’ computer networks so as to issue his threats undetected. This initially made the investigation difficult. It was because of his subterfuge that some neighbors came under suspicion initially. However, police were able to formulate technology to find the suspect, and to profile him.
When he was arrested, the suspect attempted to seize an officer’s weapon. So far, he has not cooperated with police and has refused to grant permission for a search of his computers. A search of one computer, however, uncovered a bitcoin account that is being examined whether he received payment for some of the calls he allegedly made.
"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," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "I commend the FBI and Israeli National Police for their outstanding work on this case."
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