TENAFLY, N.J. -- An Israeli teen with American citizenship was arrested Thursday in connection with more than 100 bomb threats against Jewish institutions and community centers -- including Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly.
“He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats," Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
The 19-year-old suspect -- arrested at his southern Israel home -- used voice-altering technology to call in most of the threats, authorities said. The others were emailed, they said.
These of the threats were received at Kaplen JCC, the most recent the last week of February.
“He didn’t use regular phone lines," Rosenfeld said. "He used different computer systems so he couldn’t be backtracked.”
Authorities also charged the teen with making a threatening call to Delta Airlines, prompting at least one emergency landing.
A judge in Rishon Lezion ordered him held Thursday for eight days.
A defense attorney asked that he remain supervised based on concerns over his mental condition. The lawyer also said his client has had a nonmalignant brain tumor since he was 14 and has been homeschooled since, according to reports.
The FBI and law enforcement agencies in other countries were eyeing the teen, who has lived in Israel several years, Haaretz reported.
The teen, who authorities said holds dual citizenship, is also accused of threats in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
In a statement, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said:
“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."
JCC Association of North America President and CEO Doron Krakow issued a statement following the arrest:
“On behalf of the JCC Association of North America and JCCs across the continent, we are gratified by the progress in this investigation, and applaud the commitment and leadership of the FBI and other federal agencies, Israeli law enforcement, and local law enforcement across the United States and Canada.
“We are troubled to learn that the individual suspected of making these threats against Jewish Community Centers, which play a central role in the Jewish community, as well as serve as inclusive and welcoming places for all – is reportedly Jewish.
“Emblematic of the strength of JCCs and the important model they represent for acceptance, inclusion, and appreciation for diversity is the remarkable support we have received from communities and community leaders across North America, including civic, political and faith community leaders. Throughout this long running period of concern and disruption that we are hopeful has come to an end, JCCs have had the opportunity to review and assess our security protocols and procedures, and we are confident that JCCs are safer today than ever before.
“As we celebrate JCC Association of North America’s centennial this year, millions of members and participants across the United States and Canada will continue to pass through our doors, taking part in the extraordinary programs and initiatives that have defined the town square of North American Jewish life. And they will continue to do so with total confidence that JCCs remain a vital and exciting engine for building inspired and ever-stronger communities.”
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