The above photo shows a K-9 police unit searching a Jewish center in Las Vegas in late February. This display has become commonplace in the U.S. with the recent rise in anti-Semitic bomb threats and large-scale vandalism against Jewish institutions. The FBI has now arrested one suspect, who they believe is responsible for several threats.
Disgraced journalist Juan Thompson has been accused of making at least eight nationwide bomb threats against Jewish schools and centers, along with a threat against the Anti-Defamation League. (You can read the FBI’s complaint against him here.) Thompson was taken into custody in St. Louis, and the FBI believes that he seized upon the publicity surrounding widespread anti-Semitic threats to “exact revenge” upon a woman who had recently broken up with him.
So, not only does Thompson stand accused of making these threats, but New York authorities have charged him with doing so as part of a “campaign to harass and intimidate” a woman who he was cyberstalking, and he allegedly made threats in her name. From ABC News:
Juan Thompson, 31, is accused of what federal prosecutors called a “campaign to harass and intimidate.” He’s charged in New York with cyberstalking a New York City woman by communicating threats in the woman’s name. Prosecutors said Thompson appears to have made those threats “as part of a sustained campaign to harass and intimidate” the woman after their romantic relationship ended.
He is accused of making threats over the course of Jan. 28 to Feb. 22 against the Anti-Defamation League office in New York, a Jewish history museum in New York, as well as JCCs and Jewish schools in New York, Michigan, Dallas and San Diego. New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said, “The defendant caused havoc, expending hundreds of hours of police and law enforcement resources to respond and investigate these threats. We will continue to pursue those who pedal fear, making false claims about serious crimes.”
In late February, Thompson began to claim on Twitter that he was the one being framed for these threats, and he blamed the woman. The reply thread for this tweet shows him attempting to sway his followers against her.
More tweets show him continuing to make claims against the woman.
New York State Police’s Beau Duffy stresses that Thompson has only been accused of a small fraction of the overall anti-Semitic threats currently under investigation. “No one has been arrested for making the nationwide robocall JCC threats,” he told CNN. “That’s still an active FBI investigation.”
In January 2016, Thompson was fired by the investigative journalism site The Intercept for fabricating quotes and sources (via fake email accounts) for multiple articles. (Full disclosure: Uproxx has a syndication partnership with The Intercept.) Following Thompson’s arrest, The Intercept published a statement to condemn his alleged actions:
We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson, a former employee of The Intercept, has been arrested in connection with bomb threats against the ADL and multiple Jewish Community Centers in addition to cyberstalking. These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted. We have no information about the charges against Thompson other than what is included in the criminal complaint. Thompson worked for The Intercept from November 2014 to January 2016, when he was fired after we discovered that he had fabricated sources and quotes in his articles.