The FBI and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced that they have arrested a man and charged him with making eight bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers around the country.
Juan Thompson, a 31-year-old St. Louis resident, has been charged with cyberstalking a woman after the pair ended a romantic relationship. Part of his alleged harassment campaign against the woman include making bomb threats against JCCs in her name. According to a press release from the U.S. attorney's office, Thompson "appears to have made at least eight JCC Threats as part of his campaign of harassment against" his victim.
“Thompson’s alleged pattern of harassment not only involved the defamation of his female victim, but his threats intimidated an entire community," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a press release announcing the arrest.
The bomb threats included sending a threat to the Manhattan headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League in late February "which indicated that '[Victim-1’s name and birthdate] is behind the bomb threats against jews. She lives in nyc and is making more bomb threats tomorrow.'" Thompson also took to Twitter to claim that his victim had been making bomb threats to JCCs in his name:
— Juan M. Thompson (@JuanMThompson) February 24, 2017
The bomb threat referenced in the above tweet allegedly came from an anonymous email account and read in part that Thompson "put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today. He wants to create Jewish newtown tomorrow.”
However, with more than 100 bomb threats made against JCCs in recent weeks, Thompson isn't viewed as the man who was behind all of them. NBC's Pete Williams reports that law enforcement officials consider Thompson's actions "copycat" crimes:
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 3, 2017
At the moment, there's speculation that this Juan Thompson is the same Juan Thompson who was fired from The Intercept in 2016 after it was discovered that he had made up sources in a number of stories, most famously when he claimed to have spoken to Dylann Roof's cousin, Scott, a person he made up out of thin air. (Reached by phone, a spokesperson for Bharara would not confirm that this is the same Juan Thompson.) We'll update as more information becomes available.
[Update] Intercept editor Betsy Reed released a statement in which she wrote that the organization was "horrified to learn this morning" that Thompson was arrested for cyberstalking and making the bomb threats:
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) March 3, 2017
[Update II]: The Anti-Defamation League released a statement:
"We are relieved and gratified that the FBI has made an arrest in these cases. We applaud law enforcement’s unwavering effort to resolve this matter” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “We look forward to the quick resolution of the remaining open cases.”
The arrested individual was on the radar of ADL’s Center on Extremism, which had followed his past activities, including his deceptive and at times false reports for a news website about Dylann Roof, the perpetrator of the church shooting in Charleston, SC. Most recently, Thompson allegedly announced in November 2016 that he was running for mayor of St. Louis, to “fight back against Trumpian fascism and socio-economic terrorism.” According to ADL research, Thompson also claimed that he wanted to dismantle the system of “racial supremacy and greedy capitalism that is stacked against us.” He created a Gofundme page to raise $5,000 for his ostensible election bid. He got $25. He has tweeted various rants against white people, calling them “trash” and saying they “have no shame.”