A U.S.-Israeli teenager has been found guilty of calling in thousands of phony bomb threats to Jewish and other institutions around the world, a campaign of hoaxes that sparked fears of rising anti-Semitism during the early months of the Trump administration.
The defendant, Michael Kadar, 19, was convicted Thursday in Israel on multiple counts including extortion, disseminating hoaxes in order to spread panic, computer hacking and money laundering, Reuters reported.
Kadar has not been publicly identified in Israel because he was a minor when he committed some of the crimes, but his name has been released in the U.S., where he is under indictment for hate crimes in several states.
Kadar delivered bomb and shooting threats against community centers, schools and other public places beginning in 2016 in multiple countries around the world. His prank threats in the U.S. — which occurred from January to March 2017 — largely targeted Jewish Community Centers and other organizations with connections to Israel, including the headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Israeli embassy in Washington.
Kadar, who is himself Jewish, carried out so many hoax threats that he accounted for about nine percent of all anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in 2017, according to an ADL report released in February. He has been indicted in federal court in Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C. (RELATED: Feds Indict US-Israeli Man Responsible For 9% Of All Anti-Semitic Acts In 2017)
Kadar’s spree of hate hoaxes came during a period of rising anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S., a phenomenon that many critics partly blamed on President Donald Trump’s populist and nationalist rhetoric. The ADL report found that anti-Jewish incidents in America jumped 57 percent in 2017 over the year before, a spike it said was the result of a “rising climate of incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in society.”
Based on ADL’s figures, Kadar accounted for more than one-fifth of the additional 719 threats or harassment against American Jews in 2017.
During Kadar’s trial, his parents maintained their son has a brain tumor and is on the autism spectrum, conditions that affected his conception of right and wrong. Court documents released Thursday showed that Kadar’s mental health screenings found him to be highly intelligent and aware of the consequences of his actions, reported The Times of Israel.
The Justice Department has not said if it will seek Kadar’s extradition to stand trial in the U.S. Hebrew-language media have reported that Israel refused U.S. extradition requests in favor of trying him at home, according to The Times of Israel.
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