Teen who made threats to Jewish centres, airports around the world is sentenced to prison

An Israeli-American man was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Israel on Thursday for making about 2,000 hoax bomb threats that forced evacuations of U.S. Jewish community centres and planes to make emergency landings.

The threats date back over 3 years, but a wave in early 2017 alarmed authorities, led to his arrest

This April 20, 2017, photo shows dual U.S.-Israeli citize, Michael Kadar, seated, during a court session in Rishon Lezion, Israel. An Israeli court on Thursday sentenced him to prison; he also faces an indictment in the U.S. (Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press)

An Israeli-American man was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison in Israel for making about 2,000 hoax bomb threats that forced evacuations of U.S. Jewish community centres and caused planes to make emergency landings.

The threats, by phone and email, were made in 2016 and 2017, and raised concern at the time in the United States that anti-Semitism was on the rise.

Psychiatrists found that the defendant, now 20 but a minor when some of the crimes were committed, was on the autism spectrum and had paranoid delusions. But the Tel Aviv District Court that convicted him in June said he was fit to stand trial after it weighed medical opinions.

In passing sentence, the court said the defendant offered on the "dark web" — part of the Internet accessible only through special software — to make bomb and shooting threats for money, earning about $240,000 worth of the digital currency Bitcoin.

The man, who has not been named in the proceedings in Israel due his status as a minor when the offences took place, has been identified as Michael Kadar in separate indictments in the United States for alleged hate crimes.

The court in Tel Aviv had convicted Kadar of counts that included extortion, disseminating hoaxes in order to spread panic, money laundering and computer hacking in connection with bomb and shooting threats against community centres, schools, shopping malls, police stations, airlines and airports including in Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Denmark.

"As a result of 142 telephone calls to airports and airlines, in which he said bombs had been planted in passenger planes or they would come under attack, aircraft were forced to make emergency landings and fighter planes were scrambled," the court said.

U.S. authorities also filed indictment

The Israeli indictment connected Kadar to incidents before 2016 — according to a Times of Israel report, including a threat that resulted in an emergency landing at the Winnipeg Airport in 2015 — but the sentence does not apply to any of those alleged incidents.

The U.S. Justice Department has said that in early 2017, Kadar made bomb threats against the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish campaign group based in New York, and the Israeli embassy in Washington, as well as threatening calls about bomb and gun attacks against Jewish community centres in Florida. It also alleged he tried to extort a state senator from Delaware.

The U.S. indictment alleged he used phone-spoofing software and that a folder system organized by country was found on his computer.

Kadar, who was arrested in Israel in March 2017, is Jewish.

His parents have said he has a brain tumour that causes autism and other mental health issues, making him unable to understand the nature of his actions. According to Israeli news outlet Haaretz, he was deemed unfit for military service after he turned 18.

"True, the accused is recognized as autistic, but he is highly intelligent and understands his actions full well," the court said, adding that it would have sent him to jail for 17 years had he not had mental health issues.

The court also said Kadar refuses to disclose the password to his Bitcoin digital wallet.

With files from CBC News