Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Hacker linked to threats on US Jewish centres arrested

Published:Friday | March 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM
A 19-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen covers his face as he is brought to court in Rishon Lezion, Israel, yesterday. Israeli police said they have arrested a Jewish Israeli man who is the prime suspect behind a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other institutions in the United States.

JERUSALEM (AP)

Israeli police yesterday arrested a 19-year-old hacker who they said was the main suspect in a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, appearing to crack a case that has sent a chill through the American Jewish community.

The surprising arrest of the Jewish man, who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, came after a trans-Atlantic investigation with the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies. U.S. Jewish groups welcomed the breakthrough in the case, which had raised concerns of rising anti-Semitism and drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump.

Israeli police described the suspect as a hacker, but said his motives were still unclear.

"He's the guy who was behind the JCC threats," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, referring to the scores of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the U.S. over the past two months.

Police banned publication of his name, but said he was a dual citizen and would remain in custody until at least March 30. During the arrest raid, they said he tried to grab an officer's gun but was stopped by another officer.

The young man appeared briefly in court in the central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion. He wore khaki pants and a blue sweater that he used to cover his face as he walked past reporters. He made no comment.

His lawyer, Galit Bash, said her client had a "very serious medical condition" that might have affected his behaviour. 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.