Israel convicts hacker who sparked terrorism scare against US Jews

Israel convicted a man for a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the US and other targets around the world.

By: AP and World Israel News

A Tel Aviv district court on Thursday convicted a Jewish man for making a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers in the United States.

He was convicted on hundreds of counts of extortion as well as for publishing false information that caused panic, computer offenses and money laundering, which lasted for some two years.

The court did not name the man since he was a teen when he committed the crimes. He has been identified as a hacker who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship. The American indictment identified him as Michael Ron David Kadar.

His sentencing is forthcoming.

The arrest followed a trans-Atlantic investigation with the FBI and other international law enforcement agencies. Dozens of anonymous threats last year led to evacuations, scared local Jewish communities and raised fears of rising anti-Semitism.

He made more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and day schools in 37 US states and two Canadian provinces, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that battles anti-Semitism.

Police said the man, from southern Israel, had used advanced technologies to mask the origin of his some 2,000 calls and communications to synagogues, community buildings and public venues such as hospitals and airlines.

According to court documents, he told the police that his motive was boredom and that “I like to see people running around in panic.”

The indictment says his motive was to cause “considerable” public alarm. Among the charges against him are making a bomb threat against an El-Al flight to Israel that sparked fighter jets to be scrambled and threatening a Canadian airport, which required passengers to disembark in emergency slides. Six people were injured. He was also accused of threatening a Virgin flight, which as a result dumped eight tons of fuel over the ocean before landing, and threatening a plane used by the NBA’s Boston Celtics.

His defense attorneys said he was mentally ill and unfit to stand trial. Judge Zvi Gurfinkel rejected the claim.

In addition to facing a long jail sentence in Israel, the teen was indicted on hate crimes charges by the US Department of Justice and could receive a prison term there as well.