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Israel Arrests a Jew over Anti-Semitic Threats in US | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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American-Israeli Jewish teenager accused of making dozens of anti-Semitic bomb threats in the US and elsewhere, is escorted by guards on March 23, 2017. JACK GUEZ / AFP

London- Israel has arrested a Jewish teenager accused of making dozens of anti-Semitic threats in the United States and elsewhere, and one to a major airline, following a wide-ranging investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The arrest comes after a wave of bomb threats to American Jewish institutions since the start of the year spread concern and political backlash in the United States following the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January.

The 19-year-old suspect is a resident of southern Israel and a dual US-Israeli citizen, a police spokeswoman said in a statement.

An Israeli court on Thursday remanded him in custody until March 30, and he could be seen lifting his shirt over his face to hide his identity as photographers sought to film him.

His identity is under a gag order while the investigation continues. His motive was not yet clear.

The police statement said: “The investigation began in several countries at the same time, in which dozens of threatening calls were received at public places, events, synagogues and community buildings that caused panic and disrupted events and activities in various organizations”.

The investigation was undertaken in cooperation with the FBI “as well as other police organizations from various countries”, it added.

“Investigating hate crimes is a top priority for the FBI,” the bureau said in a statement.

“We will continue to work to make sure all races and religions feel safe in their communities and in their places of worship.”

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspect was believed to be behind a range of threats against Jewish community centers and other buildings linked to Jewish communities in the United States in recent months.

The teenager is also suspected of being behind similar threats in New Zealand and Australia.

In addition, Rosenfeld said he is suspected of a bomb threat to Delta Airlines in February 2015 which led to an emergency landing.

Police said he used voice-disguising technology when making calls. Authorities seized computer equipment and other items.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement the “arrest in Israel is the culmination of a large-scale investigation spanning multiple continents for hate crimes against Jewish communities across our country”.

The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors anti-Semitism in the United States, welcomed the arrest but called on Jewish communities to remain vigilant.