Israeli police on Thursday arrested a 19-year-old man suspected of phoning in a series of bomb threats against Jewish community centers across the United States.
The wave of threats prompted community center evacuations and stoked concern among American Jews about a surge in anti-Semitism. The man also is suspected of calling in a bomb threat against Delta Air Lines flights from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York in January.
A police spokesman said the man, a resident of Ashkelon in south Israel who holds both Israeli and U.S. citizenship, used computers and satellite equipment to mask where the calls originated.
“We believe he is the main suspect behind the threats against Jewish communities,” said Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israeli police. “We have concrete evidence. It was phone call after phone call.”
Authorities said Israel’s special investigations and cyber units had been investigating the threats for the last three months with the FBI and police officials from Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
Samantha Shero, a spokeswoman for the FBI, confirmed the bureau’s involvement in the investigation and arrest.
“Early this morning in Israel, the FBI and Israeli National Police worked jointly to locate and arrest the individual suspected for threats to Jewish organizations across the United States and in other parts of the world. The FBI commends the great work of the Israeli National Police in this investigation. Investigating hate crimes is a top priority for the FBI and we will continue to work to make sure all races and religions feel safe in their communities and in their places of worship. At this time, we cannot provide additional information on the investigation.”