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Israeli teen arrested as main suspect in bomb threats against US Jewish community centers

The 19-year old American-Israeli hacker was tracked down as the main suspect in bomb threats against Jewish community in the United States. Investigators arrested the man in his home in southern Israel.

The arrest on Thursday marked a potential breakthrough in a case that has stoked fears of anti-Semitic violence across the United States. The Jewish teen who was apprehended by Israeli police is also suspected of issuing threats to synagogues in Australia and New Zealand.

"He's the guy who was behind the JCC threats," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, referring to dozens of fake bomb threats against Jewish community centres (JCC) in roughly 20 US states, stretching from Colorado to New York, since the beginning of the year.

According to investigators, the 19-year-old is also believed to have placed a threat against Delta Airlines in February 2015, prompting a flight to make an emergency landing.

The suspect is an American-Israeli dual citizen and has been described by police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld as a hacker. Rosenfeld said the suspect used advanced technologies to mask the origin of his calls.

"He didn't use regular phone lines. He used different computer systems so he couldn't be backtracked," Rosenberg told reporters.

The suspect's motives remain unclear.

USA NY Synagoge Park East (Getty Images/D. Angerer)

Jewish community centers and synagoges across the United States received dozens of bomb threats in the first months of this year

Israeli authorities and foreign law enforcement, including the FBI, worked together for months to track down the 19-year-old.

On Thursday morning, police searched the man's home in southern Isreal, where investigators discovered antennas and satellite equipment.

The FBI confirmed the arrest, but did not comment on it.

Anti-semitism in the US

An increase in bomb threats against the Jewish community - along with the vandalization of several Jewish cemeteries - has stoked fears in the US that anti-Semitism could be on the rise.

Following criticism for a delayed reaction to the bomb threats, US President Donald Trump denounced the anti-Semitic incidents as "a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil."

Critics of the Trump administration have questioned the correlation between the rise in these threats and the election of a president known for making offensive remarks about minority groups. His administration also faced stark criticism for failing to mention Jews in a statement to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Watch video 01:32

Jewish community in the US under attack

mb/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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