By: James Marlow
A dual Israeli-American 19-yearold is the main suspect in the rash of more than 100 hoax bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the United States and elsewhere. Th e teenager is alleged to have made key slip-ups that led police to track him down after months of evasion. Bomb threats were also made against Jewish communities in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Israeli police described the teenager as a resident of the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon but few other details were available about the suspect’s profi le. Reports say he was not in the IDF but has psychological problems and few friends. Th e Rishon LeZion magistrate’s court extended the
ban on identifying the youth until March 30. It was alleged that the youth used a number of sophisticated technologies, including Google Voice and spoofi ng technology to mask his internet protocol (IP) when making the threats and remained untraceable for some time. Over time, according to reports, he grew careless and failed on at least one occasion to route his internet connection through a proxy, leaving behind a real IP address traced back to Israel. Th e location was traced to a nearby Wi-Fi access point the suspect was reaching via a large antenna pointing out of his window. Earlier, Yaniv Azani, head of technology in the Israel Police
cyber unit, said the suspect used “several diff erent means to camoufl age the various layers of communication mechanisms” to carry out the calls. During the arrest raid, police said he tried to grab an offi cer’s gun but was stopped by another offi cer. Th e arrest was announced by Israeli Police after what they said was a months-long undercover joint investigation by the cyber unit of the Lahav 433 major crimes division and the FBI. Police said they found at least fi ve computers, a number of network interface controllers, satellite and antenna equipment during the arrest raid. Th e suspect’s lawyer, Galit Besh, said her client had a “very serious medical condition”
that might have aff ected his behaviour. She said the condition had prevented him from attending primary and secondary school or enlisting in the army. Police said the suspect’s father was also detained, apparently because of the equipment. Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspect allegedly placed dozens of threatening phone calls to public venues, synagogues and community buildings in the US, New Zealand and Australia. He also made a threat to Delta Airlines, causing a fl ight in February 2015 to make an emergency landing. “He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” Rosenfeld said, referring to the dozens of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centres (JCC) in the US over the past two months. Nearly 150 bomb threats have been made to JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish institutions since the beginning of the year, causing the evacuation of dozens of Jewish community centres. Th e threats have mostly come in waves, via phone and email. Many of the institutions have been threatened more than once. While welcoming the arrest, many Jewish leaders in the US noted that the waves of bomb threats were accompanied by acts of vandalism in Jewish cemeteries and religious institutions within the US, actions that could not have been carried out from abroad.