Former journalist Juan Thompson arrested on suspicion of threatening Jewish centers | News | DW | 04.03.2017
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Former journalist Juan Thompson arrested on suspicion of threatening Jewish centers

A former journalist has been arrested in relation to threats to Jewish centers across the US. There have been more than 100 bomb threats against US Jewish organizations since the start of the year.

A former journalist was arrested in St. Louis by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Friday over bomb threats to Jewish organizations across the US in an attempt to frame an ex-girlfriend.

The arrested man, Juan Thompson, was charged with cyberstalking and appeared in federal court. His lawyer did not comment on the case. Thompson started making threats on January 28 according to a criminal complaint. In the complaint, an email account that was made to appear it came from his ex-girlfriend threatened the Jewish History Museum in New York City (pictured above), saying Thompson "put two bombs in the History Museum set to go off Sunday."

The complaint continued by saying Thompson sent similar messages to a Jewish school in Michigan and to a school and community center in New York City. Thompson continued sending messages in emails and phone calls using the woman's name instead of his own. Thompson was blamed for a total of eight threats to Jewish organizations. Thompson has no known ties to anti-Semitic or racist groups.

Thompson previously worked for The Intercept, an investigative journalism website. Thompson worked for The Intercept from November 2014 to January 2016, until he was fired for fabricating parts of the articles he wrote for the website and developing fake email accounts to impersonate others. In a statement, The Intercept said it was "horrified" at Thompson's arrest. 

Jewish threats across the US

Jewish organizations in the US have experienced threats and vandalism since the start of 2017. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization that works to combat anti-Jewish defamation, has recorded 121 threats against Jewish organizations since the beginning of 2017, which the organization has called an "epidemic."

"Just because there's been an arrest today doesn't mean that threats have disappeared or will stop," said Evan Bernstein, New York regional director for the ADL. The ADL has also seen bomb threats in 2017.

Investigations into bomb threats have involved the Justice Department's hate crime and anti-terror units. There has also been vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in the US, with more than 100 desecrated graves in Philadelphia.

kbd/bw (AFP, AP)

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