A 19-year-old dual American Israeli living in Ashkelon has been arrested, suspected of being behind most of a series of bomb and other threats to Jewish communities in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand that date back around six months, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
As of Thursday, with a gag order on the probe being lifted by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court at the same time it extended his detention to March 30, sources indicate that most of the threats against the Diaspora communities and organizations led investigators back to Israel.
The suspect’s father has also been remanded until the end of the month, with the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court ruling that there is sufficient evidence to suspect that he himself made many of the threatening phone calls.
The first threat that stood out and was picked up on by Israeli investigators occurred in New Zealand around six month ago and led to the opening of the investigation.
Israel has been the lead coordinator with a number of other involved countries over the course of the probe.
The suspect 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.
Law enforcement finally searched the suspect’s house on Thursday. They are only now able to piece together the breadth and methodology of his operations.
There are still few details available about the suspect’s profile, but he is not in the IDF, not ultra-Orthodox, at some point made aliya and possibly has psychological problems and few friends.
It is unknown how many others might have worked with the suspect, but it is believed that he was the main operator of the scare-spree and might have even acted completely on his own.
As of Thursday, it was still unclear what the suspect’s motivations were for the many threats, which made international headlines and got US President Donald Trump caught up in accusations that he was light on antisemitism when he did not initially harshly condemn the scares as well as desecrations of Jewish graves, which presumably were not connected to the suspect.
Israel intends to indict the suspect in its own courts, but it is unknown as of Thursday whether other countries such as the US might also seek to extradite and try him.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told the Post, “This is one of the numerous ongoing police operations that take place with other international security and intelligence organizations in order to try to find suspects.
“This specific investigation was complex in terms of the suspect and its nature, and there was a significant breakthrough in the investigation which led us to make the arrest of the suspect, who lives in southern Israel,” he said.
“He was the main suspect behind the numerous threats that were made to different Jewish communities and organizations around the world,” Rosenfeld continued.
Further, Rosenfeld said, “As part of the ongoing investigation, we are trying to see if and how he was connected to the different Jewish communities in the US. That directs the investigation as to the American connection. We are looking to see if there was an incident which triggered him to carry out threatening those communities.”