World

Israel indicts teen linked to threats on Jewish centres

Israel has indicted an 18-year-old American-Israeli dual citizen for a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centres in the United States and Canada that stoked fears of rising anti-Semitism.

Threats sent a chill through communities in Canada and U.S., stoking fears of rising anti-Semitism

The dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, seen in court in Israel in March, is accused of being behind a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centres and other institutions in the United States and Canada. (Nir Keidar/Associated Press)

Israel has indicted 18-year-old American-Israeli dual citizen for a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centres in the United States and Canada that stoked fears of rising anti-Semitism.

Israel's Justice Ministry said the accused, who is Jewish, was charged at a district court in Tel Aviv for thousands of cases of extortion, computer offences, money laundering and publishing false information that caused panic.

On Friday, he was charged in U.S. federal court in Orlando, Fla., with 28 counts of making threatening calls and conveying false information to police. Separately, he was charged with three more counts of cyberstalking in an indictment filed in federal court in Athens, Ga.

The Israeli indictment said that in addition to the Jewish centres, the accused also targeted airports, malls, police stations and U.S. Republican state Sen. Ernesto Lopez from Delaware. He also offered his intimidation services over the internet in return for compensation in Bitcoin.

Israel has not identified the accused because he was minor when he committed the alleged offences in the country. But the American indictment identified him as Michael Ron David Kadar.

Kadar was arrested last month 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 drawn condemnation from President Donald Trump.

Hundreds of bomb threats since January

Since Jan. 9, there have been more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centres and day schools in 37 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that battles anti-Semitism.

Similar calls were also made to Jewish centres in Australia and New Zealand.

The threats led to evacuations, sent a chill through local Jewish communities and raised fears of rising anti-Semitism. Acts of vandalism on Jewish targets, including cemeteries, have added to those concerns. U.S. authorities have also arrested a former journalist from St. Louis, Mo., Juan Thompson, for allegedly threatening Jewish organizations. He has been charged with one count of cyberstalking.

But Israeli police described their man as the primary suspect in the wave of threats.

Police said he used sophisticated "camouflage technologies" to disguise his voice and mask his location. They said a search of his home uncovered antennas and satellite equipment.

The indictment says his motive was to cause public alarm. Among the charges against him are making a bomb threat against an El-Al flight to Israel that sparked fighter jets to be scrambled, and threatening a Canadian airport, which required passengers to disembark in emergency slides. Six people were injured. He was also accused of threatening a Virgin flight that as a result dumped eight tons of fuel over the ocean before landing, and threatening a plane being used by the NBA's Boston Celtics.

In addition to threatening Lopez, he is also charged with harassing former Pentagon official George Little and threatening to kidnap and kill his children.

Kadar's lawyer says he has a 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.

now