Israel Police cyber unit cracks U.S. bomb threat case; suspect arrested

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The arrest comes after more than 100 JCCs - including Mercer Island's Stroum Jewish Community Center - across the USA and in Australia and New Zealand were threatened recently.

He said it appeared the suspect had penetrated neighbors' Wi-Fi systems to create multiple computer addresses.

He was arrested after a joint operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Israeli forces.

Rosenfeld says the man, from the south of Israel, used advanced technologies to mask the origin of his calls and communications to synagogues, community buildings and public venues.

Locally, there have been two threats delivered to the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver around West 41st Avenue near Oak Street in recent weeks.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the man arrested more recently is likely behind a bomb threat at a Jewish institution in New Zealand in 2016.

The FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division have investigated the threats since January.

Since January, at least 165 bomb threats have targeted Jewish institutions in 36 U.S. states as well as in Canada, including community centers, schools and synagogues.

"I commend the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Israeli National Police for their outstanding work on this case", US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Thursday, as quoted by Reuters.

He was arrested for suspicion of making security-related threats and publishing false reports causing panic in Jewish communities in countries around the world, said Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. Here's what we do know: The person is a dual Israeli-American citizen, he is not a member of the Israeli Defense Forces, he is not ultra-Orthodox and at some point he made aliya (immigration to Israel by Jews in the diaspora) to Israel. Several instances of vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, though unrelated, heightened fears of anti-Semitism. Rosenfeld also said that, so far, the suspect's motive's remain unclear.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement praised the work of the Israeli police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A court remanded their arrest until March 30.

The Asheville Jewish Community Center has been awarded a grant from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina for the goal of enhancing security in and around the JCC facility.

She said the condition had prevented him from attending elementary school, high school or enlisting in the army, which is compulsory for most Jewish men.

The threats became a political issue for President Donald Trump's administration because nationally some Jewish leaders nationally said Trump was too slow to denounce the anti-Semitic incidents. And even after Thompson's arrest earlier this month, the threats continued.

But Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the ADL, said anti-Semitism in the US remains a "very serious concern".

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