Authorities have arrested a 31-year-old man they say is behind at least eight of the scores of threats made against Jewish Community Centers nationwide, plus a bomb threat to New York’s Anti-Defamation League, in an effort to harass and vilify a former friend, federal officials said Friday.
Juan Thompson, 31, was arrested in St. Louis and will appear in federal court in Missouri on Friday afternoon on a charge of cyberstalking, authorities said.
Federal officials have been investigating 122 bomb threats called in to nearly 100 Jewish Community College schools, child care and other similar facilities in three dozen states. The first wave of calls started Jan. 9. Thompson made threats in his name and in the friend’s name, and his first one was Jan. 28 to the Jewish History Museum in Manhattan, authorities said. Federal authorities say Thompson made up an email address to make it seem like the friend was sending threats in his name. He made threats this way to Jewish schools in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and Manhattan and to a JCC in Manhattan, authorities said.
He also made threats in the friend’s name, authorities said. An email sent Feb. 21 to the Anti-Defamation League said the woman was behind threats made against “jews,” authorities said.
“She lives in nyc and is making more bomb threats tomorrow,” the email said, according to federal authorities.
The ADL received a phoned-in threat of a bomb that would detonate the next day. The threat was a hoax.
He sent a note to the San Diego JCC, too, and wrote that the woman “hates Jewish people and is the head of a ring and put a bomb in the center to kill as many Jews asap,” authorities said.
According to a federal complaint, the pair were acquainted and broke off last summer. The following day, her boss received an email purporting to be from a national news organization saying that she’d been pulled over for drunken driving.
Thompson is also a former journalist who was fired from the Intercept last year after he was accused of fabricating several quotes and creating fake email accounts to impersonate people, one of whom was The Intercept’s editor-in-chief, Betsy Reed. One of the stories involved Dylann Roof, the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter.
The ADL said Friday that Thompson had been on its radar ever since he fabricated the story about Roof.