Former journalist arrested over hoax Jewish bomb threats

Nick Allen
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department K-9 officers search the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada after an employee received a suspicious phone call that led about 10 people to evacuate the building - 2017 Getty Images

A former journalist has been charged with being behind a wave of hoax bomb threats against Jewish organisations that led to fears of a rise in anti-Semitism across the United States.

Juan Thompson, 31, was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri as part of an investigation into more than 100 threats made by phone and email since January to Jewish community centres, schools, and child care facilities in three dozen states.

A row of more than 170 toppled Jewish headstones is seen after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery - Credit: Reuters

Until last year Thompson, was employed by The Intercept, a campaigning news website where one of the editors is Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who revealed classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden.

In a statement The Intercept said it was "horrified" by Thompson's actions, and that he was fired last year for making up sources and quotes. It added: "These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted."

Prosecutors charged Thompson with cyberstalking in relation to eight threats, and it was not clear whether they believed he was responsible for scores more.

It was alleged that Thompson carried out the fear campaign with the intention of blaming it on a girlfriend who had ended their relationship last summer.

He made up an email address to make it seem like the woman was sending the threats, prosecutors said.

In one message he said the woman "hates Jewish people" and wanted to "kill as many Jews asap".

US President Donald Trump, Israeli officials and Jewish groups had all condemned the surge in intimidation.

Last weekend about 100 headstones were toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, about a week after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was also vandalised.

On Feb 24 Thompson, who is black, posted on Twitter" "Y'all know how to get a social worker in New York barred? I'm being stalked and harassed by a nasty white woman."