Federal prosecutors in the U.S. filed charges today against the 18-year-old Israeli man accused of orchestrating a massive campaign of bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the United States.
Michael David Kadar, a dual Israeli-U.S. citizen currently in custody in Israel, now faces felony charges in federal courts in Georgia and Florida.
In addition to calling in bomb threats to Jewish institutions in Florida, he is charged with a series of so-called “swatting” attacks on Georgia public schools in 2015, as well as a private home in that state in early 2017.
According to court documents unsealed today, Kadar told Israeli police he “did not do” the “JCC threats” — before the police had mentioned Jewish Community Centers.
“This kind of behavior is not a prank, and it isn’t harmless. It’s a federal crime,” FBI Director James Comey said in a statement. “It scares innocent people, disrupts entire communities, and expends limited law enforcement resources.”
Israeli police arrested Kadar last month. A spokesman for the Department of Justice would not comment on the status of extradition proceedings.
In Georgia, Kadar is facing charges of cyberstalking and conveying false information. In Florida, he faces charges of making bomb threats and making threatening interstate communications.
Kadar made “at least 245 threatening phone calls” in early 2017, mostly to JCCs and other Jewish institutions, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Middle District of Florida.
Kadar allegedly used an online service that masks caller ID and distorts the caller’s voice. According to the complaint, investigators served over 100 subpoenas to the online phone service, internet service providers and other companies while investigating the JCC bomb threats. They then linked their probe to an ongoing investigation by an FBI office in Georgia into a series of “swatting” attacks, in which an individual had placed phone calls meant to provoke an armed police response. The attacks followed a similar pattern to the JCC bomb threats, and Israeli police had already tracked those calls to a neighborhood in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.
In March, when FBI agents traveled to Ashkelon, Israeli investigators “observed a large parabolic antenna” sticking out of an Ashkelon apartment, used to pick up faraway Wi-Fi signals. Upon searching the apartment, they found a flash drive with recordings of threatening phone calls, plus lists of targets that matched Jewish institutions that had received bomb threats.
The FBI was also able to match Kadar’s voice to recordings obtained from the online ID-masking service of the caller’s voice with distortion removed.
Kadar’s Israeli lawyers have claimed that he suffers from a brain tumor that impacts his behavior.
U.S. Prosecutors File Charges in JCC Bomb Threats
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.