Evidence links 19-year-old Israeli man in Jewish centre threats to Toronto: police
A 19-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen covers his face as he is brought to court in Rishon Lezion, Israel, Thursday, March 23, 2017. Israeli police said they have arrested a Jewish Israeli man who is the prime suspect behind a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other institutions in the United States. The police withheld his identity. (AP Photo/Nir Keidar)
Chris Herhalt, CTV Toronto
Published Thursday, March 23, 2017 12:07PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 23, 2017 2:50PM EDT
Police in Israel say they have uncovered some evidence tying a 19-year-old man arrested Thursday to the March 7 bomb threat called in against a large Jewish community centre in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood and others in Canada.
Israeli National Police Insp. Micky Rosenfeld told CTV News Toronto Thursday that “information is ongoing” and the suspect is accused of making dozens of threats similar nature to the one received at Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre more than two weeks ago.
On the morning of March 7, someone phoned the community centre, which contains several day schools, a large fitness centre and community space, and threatened that the location would be bombed.
Staff evacuated 600 occupants of the centre in less than seven minutes and held out for several hours before police and firefighters swept and eventually declared the building safe.
That day, Jewish centres and schools across the United States also received telephone bomb threats.
Rosenfeld said that Israeli investigators and the American FBI started an investigation that culminated in the arrest of a 19-year-old Israeli/American man at his home in the coastal city of Ashkelon on Thursday morning.
Police seized computers, antennas and other equipment allegedly used to hide the suspect’s identity when making threatening calls.
Rosenfeld said he is accused of making threats against Jewish groups in New Zealand, Australia, the U.S. and likely Canada.
Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash said Thursday that they did not have any information to link the threat against Miles Nadal JCC on March 7 to the arrest in Israel.
After the arrest was announced, the Canadian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs issued a statement expressing relief at his capture.
"We are relieved and grateful that authorities have located the individual believed to be responsible for these false threats," Chair David J. Cape said in a news release. "At the same time, we are shocked and outraged to learn that the alleged perpetrator of these crimes, which terrorized our community, is a Jewish dual American-Israeli citizen."
The suspect is also accused of making bomb threats against two Delta Airlines flights to and from JFK airport in New York on Jan. 19. 2015. One of the flights was destined for Tel Aviv, Israel. Both flights were grounded immediately.
He was held in custody in Israel pending his next court date, scheduled for March 30.