Israeli police arrest suspect in bomb threats made to Jewish centers
PHOENIX — Police in Israel said they have arrested a teenager suspected of making bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States.
Centers in Scottsdale and Tucson received threats last month, but officials did not list cities.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday the 19-year-old suspect is “the guy who was behind the JCC threats.” ABC News reported the man had dual American-Israeli citizenship.
Police & FBI investigation arrest Israeli age 19 suspected of making threats to Jewish organizations, communities & JCC bomb threats in US.
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) March 23, 2017
Jewish community centers in at least a dozen states received calls of bomb threats all in one day in February. Police in Scottsdale cleared the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center — known as the J — near Scottsdale Road and Sweetwater Avenue. The threat was vague, but the building was cleared.
In Tucson, about 200 people were sheltered in place after a call was made claiming a bomb was set to go off in the parking lot.
Rosenfeld said the young man, from the south of Israel, was able to hide the origin of his calls and communications to synagogues, community buildings and public places. He said the suspect also made threats in New Zealand and Australia that started as long as six months ago.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the teenager “used very complex methods to shield himself from identification and being caught, and law enforcement had to use a variety of their own complex methods to find him.”
The Post also said the boy “possibly has psychological problems and few friends.” Other reports have said the teenager’s lawyer said the boy has a “nonmalignant brain tumor.”
Israeli police believe the boy’s father was in on the operation, but are not sure how many others might have worked with him or known about the threats.
Police still do not have a motive.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.