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At Least 8 Threats to Jewish Institutions Linked to Man Harassing Ex, Say Authorities

A security guard stands outside the entrance to the David Posnack Jewish Community Center and David Posnack Jewish Day School after people were evacuated because of a bomb threat Feb. 27, 2017, in Davie, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Police have arrested a St. Louis man who use to write for The Intercept in connection with a handful of the bomb threats recently phoned in to Jewish community center and Anti-Defamation League offices.

According to the criminal complaint announced today by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, the FBI and the NYPD, Juan Thompson, 31, allegedly made threats to at least eight of the targeted centers in the name of a woman he was stalking and harassing.

As of Wednesday, 122 bomb threats had been called into 97 Jewish institutions in 36 states and two Canadian provinces since the beginning of the year. Twelve Jewish day schools have received threats. The ADL received bomb threats at two of their offices. (See full list)

Thompson’s relationship with a woman soured, according to the complaint, and his subsequent alleged harassment of his ex “included, among other things, defamatory emails and faxes to Victim-1’s employer, false reports of criminal activity by Victim-1, and JCC Threats in Victim-1’s name.”

Thompson was first confronted by police in November, after making a false report that his ex was possessing child pornography. He claimed at the time that the email account used to file the false report had been hacked.

The bomb threats attributed to Thompson included his harassment victim’s name, specificity not reported on some of the other threats. JTA obtained a recording of one of the calls made during an earlier wave of threats on Jan. 18, potentially using technology to alter the caller’s voice: “It’s a C-4 bomb with a lot of shrapnel, surrounded by a bag (inaudible). In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. Their heads are going to [sic] blown off from the shrapnel. There’s a lot of shrapnel. There’s going to be a bloodbath that’s going to take place in a short time. I think I told you enough. I must go.”

Late last month, the criminal complaint states, the ADL received an emailed threat at their midtown Manhattan office, which included the stalking victim’s name and birthday and claimed she “is behind the bomb threats against jews. She lives in nyc and is making more bomb threats tomorrow.” A follow-up phone threat was received the next day.

In early February, Thompson’s name was used in the threat in what authorities suspect was an attempt to assert his ex was trying to frame him for a crime. One Jewish community center in Manhattan received the email: “Juan Thompson [THOMPSON’s birthday] put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today. He wants to create Jewish newtown tomorrow.”

Later in the month, a Twitter account appearing to belong to Thompson tweeted, “[s]he [Victim-1], though I can’t prove it, even sent a bomb threat in my name to a Jewish center, which was odd given her antisemitic statements. I got a visit from the FBI. So now I’m battling the racist FBI and this vile, evil, racist white woman.” He also tweeted: “The hatred of Jews goes across all demos. Ask NYC’s [Victim-1’s employer]. They employ a filthy anti-Semite in [Victim-1]. These ppl are evil.”

Thompson faces up to 5 years in prison for one count of cyberstalking.

“The defendant allegedly caused havoc, expending hundreds of hours of police and law enforcement resources to respond and investigate these threats,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “We will continue to pursue those who peddle fear, making false claims about serious crimes.”

Some of the calls received by Jewish community centers since the beginning of the year have been made by an automated voice, with others appearing to use voice-distortion devices. Some of the callers have potentially been women. Law enforcement sources told CNN they believed many of the phone threats originated overseas.

No arrests have yet been made in the recent vandalism of three Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Rochester, N.Y.

The ADL said Thompson has been “on the radar” of their Center on Extremism, including for “his deceptive and at times false reports for a news website” about Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.

“Most recently, Thompson allegedly announced in November 2016 that he was running for mayor of St. Louis, to ‘fight back against Trumpian fascism and socio-economic terrorism.’  According to ADL research, Thompson also claimed that he wanted to dismantle the system of ‘racial supremacy and greedy capitalism that is stacked against us.’ He created a Gofundme page to raise $5,000 for his ostensible election bid. He got $25,” the ADL said in a release. “He has tweeted various rants against white people, calling them ‘trash’ and saying they ‘have no shame.’”

The ADL tweeted that after being fired from The Intercept, “Thompson became more hostile to whites in general.” The website, which called his alleged actions “heinous,” said Thompson wrote there between November 2014 and January 2016, and was let go “after we discovered that he had fabricated sources and quotes in his articles.”

“Thompson also described liberal media as ‘a hypocritical, pernicious, circle jerk featuring white elites,'” the ADL noted. “While at same time as allegedly threatening JCCs, suspect Juan Thompson repeatedly made tweets sympathetic to JCCs.”

“We are relieved and gratified that the FBI has made an arrest in these cases. We applaud law enforcement’s unwavering effort to resolve this matter,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “We look forward to the quick resolution of the remaining open cases.”