A disgraced former journalist is allegedly behind some of the recent bomb threats against Jewish facilities across the country, and according to the FBI, the threats were part of the man’s plot to harass a woman. A federal complaint against Thompson was read in District Court in New York City on Friday, according to the New York Times.
Juan Thompson, 31, was arrested in St. Louis on Friday, but law-enforcement officials do not believe that he is responsible for all of the calls to Jewish centers and schools in recent months, the Washington Post reports. Nor do they believe that he is behind the the vandalism of headstones at Jewish cemeteries in Missouri, Pennsylvania and upstate New York.
Still, even after Thompson was taken into custody, the Post reports, Jewish groups and officials “remained on edge about the threats that are still unsolved.”
“There are many more [Jewish Community Center] bomb threats that have not been solved, and communities are hurting,” Evan Bernstein, the New York regional director at the Anti-Defamation League, whose New York offices also received a bomb threat, told reporters Friday. “We hope all law enforcement will continue to be diligent.”
On Friday, the FBI said that its ongoing investigation into the threats is “a top priority” for the bureau.
“Agents and analysts across the country are working to identify and stop those responsible,” the bureau said in a statement. “The FBI is committed to ensuring that people of all races and religions feel safe in their communities and places of worship.”
From the Post:
Federal agents arrested Thompson on Friday morning, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. Thompson—whose Twitter page is full of rants about white people and President Trump—was charged with cyberstalking and is accused of communicating at least eight threats to Jewish Community Centers, which an FBI complaint said were “part of a sustained campaign to harass and intimidate” a woman with whom he had been romantically involved.
Thompson previously drew national attention when he was fired a little more than a year ago from the Intercept, an investigative journalism website, for fabricating quotes and misleading colleagues to cover his tracks. In an editor’s note, the publication said Thompson had engaged in “a pattern of deception” and wrote that he created fake email accounts to impersonate people.
“We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson, a former employee of The Intercept, has been arrested in connection with bomb threats against the ADL and multiple Jewish Community Centers in addition to cyberstalking,” Charlotte Greensit, the Intercept’s managing editor, said in a statement Friday. “These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted.”
Thompson was in federal court Friday in St. Louis accompanied by a U.S. marshal and a public defender; his mother and several other family members were present for the hearing. He was remanded to federal custody when the hearing concluded.
The Post reports that Thompson began sending defamatory emails and faxes to the woman’s workplace after they broke up, falsely reporting that she was involved in criminal activity and making threats to the Jewish centers.
More from the Post:
The complaint says that after he and the woman he dated broke up in July 2016, Thompson began emailing and faxing her company defamatory messages about her.
In one, for example, a person claiming to be a TV producer for a national news organization said the woman had been pulled over for drunk driving and was being sued for spreading a sexually transmitted disease. The woman also received a series of bizarre texts and emails related to Thompson from someone claiming to be his friend. One said—falsely—that Thompson had been the victim of a robbery and shooting, and was on life support.
The woman obtained a protective order against Thompson in August 2016 and renewed it in October and December. Law enforcement confronted Thompson in November 2016, after someone from his IP address reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that the woman possessed child pornography. A New York police detective eventually got in touch with Thompson—who claimed his email accounts had been hacked—and told him he should not attempt to contact the victim.
The criminal complaint filed in federal court points to his Twitter page, where he rails about an ex-girlfriend he describes as a “nasty/racist #whitegirl.” Thompson’s page also expresses disdain for Trump and white people generally. “White folk are trash,” he wrote in a tweet about the Oscars. He praised black women for their opposition to Trump “The only person to call Trump a fascist in the #dncdebate is a black woman,” he wrote. “Of course. Black women are the root of left mvmnts.”
ADL leaders announced Friday that they had been informed by law enforcement that an arrest had been made in the threats against their office in New York.
“The defendant allegedly caused havoc, expending hundreds of hours of police and law enforcement resources to respond and investigate these threats,” James P. O’Neill, the New York City police commissioner, said in a statement. “We will continue to pursue those who peddle fear, making false claims about serious crimes.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan plans to move to have Thompson brought to New York to face prosecution, according to the Times.
All of this seems like an oddball way to get back at someone for breaking up with you, but I’m sure stranger things have happened.