Israeli police arrest suspect in threats on US Jewish targets

A 19-year-old Israeli man was arrested in connection with a series of threats made against Jewish community centers across the United States.

A 19-year-old Israeli man was arrested in connection with a series of threats made against Jewish community centers across the United States. (3/23/17)

JERUSALEM - Israeli police say they have arrested a 19-year-old Israeli-Jewish man as the primary suspect in a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers in the United States.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday the suspect's motives are unclear.

Rosenfeld says the suspect is "the guy who was behind the JCC threats," referring to Jewish community centers in the U.S. that have received dozens of anonymous threats in recent weeks.

Rosenfeld says the man, from the south of Israel, used advanced technologies to mask the origin of his calls and communications to synagogues, community buildings and public venues. He says the suspect also made threats in New Zealand and Australia.

He says the investigation was carried out with the help of the FBI and police from other countries.

There is no word yet if centers in New Jersey were targets of those threats.

The CEO of the Jewish Community Center in Tenafly says he's cautiously optimistic at the news of the arrest, and relieved to know the international community was working on finding the suspect.

“We've said for months that this is not a Jewish issue,” says Jordan Shenker. “This is a human issue that we should stand up against intolerance and hatred no matter who it's directed at.  And I'd have the exact same observation no matter who the alleged perpetrator. It doesn't matter to be what their background, faith or allegiance is. That we should stand up against hate and intolerance no matter who is doing it."

The JCC in Tenafly received at least three bomb threats in recent weeks.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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