Former Journalist Arrested for Making Threats Against Jewish Community Centers

Friday morning, the FBI announced that an arrest had been made in a string of bomb threats that were called in across the country against Jewish Community Centers. The suspect is wanted in least eight threats against Jewish Community Centers, Jewish schools, a Jewish museum and the Anti-Defamation League. The suspect has been identified as Juan Thompson, 31. Federal prosecutors said of Thompson’s actions as a “campaign to harass and intimidate.” He is being charged in New York with cyberstalking a New York City woman by communicating threats in a former girlfriend’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 relationship ended.

According to the FBI, Thompson is accused of making threats, by phone, 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. Speaking about Thompson’s one-man crime wave, 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.”

Juan Thompson former Journalist, arrested for making phone bomb threats across the country

Juan Thompson former Journalist, arrested for making phone bomb threats across the country

CNN reports that since January 1, 2017, there have been over 100 Jewish Community Center’s targeted with bomb threats. Thompson’s role, the FBI believes, is as a copycat of the other bomb threats. Juan Thompson has a background in journalism but he left the Intercept, due to Thompson inventing sources for his news articles. The editor of the Intercept, Betsy Reed, had written that Thompson had created fake email accounts that he then used to impersonate people, including Reed herself. The Intercept conducted an investigation which found that on three occasions, people were quoted even though they had never actually been interviewed.

In one particular story, Thompson had made up quotes from a relative of Dylann Roof the man who was charged with killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. Thompson identified in the story as Roof’s cousin said that the gunman ‘kind of went over the edge when a girl he liked starting dating a black guy two years back.” The statements were not true and the cousin was made up.

In another case, Thompson wrote the article, ‘Black Lives Matter activists blocked from entering Trump campaign rally.’ The article quoted a couple purported to be Trump supporters who said that they supported the candidate because of his tough policy proposals on immigration. Thompson said that the couple stated that, “”That’s what we like about Trump, he’s not afraid of the backlash. He tells the truth”.’ The Intercept found that the woman who was quoted never attended a Trump rally, nor was she a Trump supporter.

As far as what Thompson is being charged with now, FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said of alleged crimes that, “Thompson’s alleged pattern of harassment not only involved the defamation of his female victim, but his threats intimidated an entire community.” Continuing Sweeney said “the FBI and our partners take these crimes seriously.”

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