Updated 10:23 a.m.
Federal agents arrested a man Friday morning suspected of making bomb threats to at least eight Jewish institutions in January and February, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has confirmed to the Forward.
The man, Juan Thompson, is accused of making the threats as part of a campaign of stalking and harassment against an ex-girlfriend. He was arrested in St. Louis.
Nearly a hundred bomb threats have been made to Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions this year. Thompson is accused of being behind only a fraction of the threats. But his actions appear to have been motivated not by anti-Semitism, but rather by a vendetta against a woman he had dated for roughly a year.
“Threats of violence targeting people and places based on religion or race – whatever the motivation – are unacceptable, un-American, and criminal,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
The Anti-Defamation League did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the arrest.
According to a federal criminal complaint filed March 1, Thompson had been stalking his ex-girlfriend since July 2016, falsely claiming to her employer that she had been arrested for drunk driving, among other things. In October, his ex-girlfriend’s employer received anonymous faxes claiming that the ex-girlfriend was anti-Semitic.
In January and February, Thompson allegedly made bomb threats to eight Jewish institutions. In some cases, he made the threats in his own name, and then went on Twitter to blame his ex-girlfriend for framing him. In others, he used his ex-girlfriend’s name.
Most of the threats were made over email.
In one incident on February 22, the ADL received an email alleging that the ex-girlfriend was “behind the bomb threats against Jews,” and that she would be “making more bomb threats tomorrow.” The ADL received a telephoned bomb threat at its Manhattan office the next day.
Thompson is allegedly also responsible for bomb threats to a JCC in San Diego, a Jewish school in Michigan, a Jewish school in Manhattan and a JCC in Manhattan, among others.
The earliest bomb threat he is accused of making came January 28, to a Jewish museum in Manhattan. (The complaint refers to the museum as “the Jewish History Museum”; it’s not clear which museum they mean.) That was well into the nationwide wave of bomb threats that have grabbed national attention, which began on January 9.
In late February, Thompson tweeted: “I’m been tormenting by an anti-semite named [Victim-1]… She sent an antijewish bom threat in my name. Help.”
On his Twitter account, which is cited in the complaint, Thompson tweeted extensively about his ex-girlfriend and about the JCC bomb threats. On February 27, after allegedly making a number of bomb threats to Jewish sites, Thompson tweeted: “Another week, another round of threats against Jewish ppl. In the middle of the day, you know who’s at a JCC? Kids. KIDS.”
NBC 4 New York reported that the Twitter account cited in the complaint belongs to a journalist named Juan Thompson who was fired last February from the website The Intercept for making up quotes and sources.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.