The FBI arrested a former journalist Friday, March 3, in connection with some of the bomb threats made the past two months against Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions.
Juan Thompson, 31, of St. Louis is accused in a complaint unsealed in federal court in New York of being responsible for eight of the more than 100 threats against Jewish institutions, including the bomb threat that forced the Anti-Defamation League to evacuate its New York headquarters Feb. 22.
“JCC Association of North America is gratified by the arrest made in connection with the large number of anti-Semitic threats that have targeted JCCs and other Jewish institutions over the past two months,” association President and CEO Doron Krakow said in a statement. “We trust that the perpetrators behind all of the threats will be swiftly identified and brought to justice.”
According to the criminal complaint, most of Thompson’s hoax threats targeted New York institutions, as well as JCCs in Dallas, Texas, and San Diego. According to the JCC Association of North America, 73 JCCs in 30 states and one Canadian province have received bomb threats since Jan. 9.
The FBI said Thompson was attempting to frame an ex-girlfriend for the bomb threats as part of a pattern of harassment going back to July. The only charge filed against Thompson is cyberstalking, which carries a sentence of up to five in years in prison; he has not yet been charged with making terroristic threats or any other crime related directly to the threats.
The timeline in the complaint shows Thompson beginning to target Jewish institutions at the end of January, after the first two waves of threats against JCCs.
The Washington Post noted that the national investigation into the JCC bomb threats continues.
Thompson is a former journalist with the activist website The Intercept who was fired last year for fabricating comments from people he never interviewed.
“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,” The Intercept posted. “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.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt broke the news of the arrest on Twitter after being notified by New York and federal officials.
Thompson last year announced a run for mayor of St. Louis to counter “Trumpian fascism” but raised only $25 toward a $5,000 goal with a GoFundMe campaign, the ADL reported on Twitter.
He has expressed hatred toward whites, police, Trump and former President Barack Obama on social media and first came to the attention of the ADL Center on Extremism through a false story he reported about Charleston killer and white supremacist Dylann Roof.
Thompson is not a suspect in the vandalism at a Jewish cemetery outside St. Louis in University City, where 154 tombstones were damaged.
The arrest came the same morning that leaders of Jewish organizations met with FBI Director James Comey in New York to talk about anti-Semitism and the wave of threats against Jewish institutions.
Check with our partner The Times of Israel for updates on this arrest.