More Jewish institutions received bomb threats Tuesday, ending a short lull in incidents since Friday, when the FBI arrested a man accused of making eight threats.
Five Jewish Community Centers, a Jewish day school in Florida and offices for the Anti-Defemation League all received threats. Police searched JCCs in Milwaukee, the greater Washington area, Portland, Oregon, and Rochester, New York, and cleared them all, according to the Jewish Community Center Association of North America. A JCC in Chicago also alerted police after a bomb threat was called in, according to NBC Chicago.
“Four ADL offices in Atlanta, Boston, New York and Washington D.C. received telephoned bomb threats today,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. “This is not ‘normal.’ We will not be deterred or intimidated.”
That raises the total number of bomb threats to JCCs and schools to at least 109 since the first big wave of them on Jan. 9.
“It is time for action, and we call on the Administration and Congress to take concrete steps to catch those threatening the Jewish community,” Greenblatt said.
It also ends any semblance of normalcy since the FBI arrested Juan Thompson on Friday ― though there was never an indication that he was involved in all of the threats. He’s accused of making eight bomb threats to harass his former girlfriend. Police allege he committed the first offense on Jan. 18 ― nine days after the first series of bomb threats around the country.
Tuesday’s new wave of threats against JCCs were made primarily via email, a method Thompson is accused of using. But many others have been direct phone calls, at times disguised in a robotic voice. The Jewish Telegraph obtained chilling audio from one of those calls in February.
“In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered,” a voice says in the message. “Their heads are going to be blown off from the shrapnel.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer condemned the new wave of threats Tuesday afternoon.
“It is incredibly saddening that I have to continue to share these disturbing reports with you, and I share the president’s thoughts that he feverently hopes that we don’t continue to have to share these reports with you,” Spicer said during a briefing with reporters. “But as long as they do continue, we’ll continue to condemn them and look at ways in which we can stop them.”
Along with the threats, Jewish cemeteries in Missouri and New York have been vandalized.
The FBI is investigating the dozens of other threats across the country.
“[We’re] 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,” JCC Association CEO Doron Krakow said in a news release following the arrest of Thompson.
“We trust that the perpetrators behind all of the threats will be swiftly identified and brought to justice.”