The man arrested on suspicion of making at least eight of the hoax bomb threats against Jewish American institutions is a former staff reporter for the Intercept website who was fired for fabricating sources and quotes.
Juan Thompson, of Missouri, appeared in Federal Court on Friday in St Louis. He is being charged by the State of New York with cyberstalking.
Mr Thompson, who worked for the Intercept from November 2014 until January 2016, is said to have made the threats in the name of his ex-girlfriend, in attempt to try and frame her. Federal authorities have reported that he also sent messages to Jewish institutions, purporting to be from his former partner, in which he was blamed for the hoax calls.
He then tweeted “Know any good lawyers? Need to stop this nasty/racist #whitegirl I dated who sent a bomb threat in my name & wants me to be raped in jail.”
At the same time as he allegedly made the hoax bomb calls, the 31 year old tweeted a series of messages supportive of the Jewish community.
On February 26, in response to the desecration of a Jewish cemetery, he tweeted:
“And ppl says [sic] Jews don't face bigotry and violence. How would you feel if nasty white ppl destroyed MLK's gravesite? #philadelphia”
After almost 30 bomb threats were made against Jewish institutions and schools last Monday, Mr 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.”
In a statement released by the Intercept, the website said it was “horrified” to hear of Mr Thompson’s arrest, and that the alleged actions were “heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted.”
The statement went on to say that Mr Thompson “was fired after we discovered that he had fabricated sources and quotes in his articles.”
Federal authorities have made it clear that they do not think that Mr Thompson is behind more than a handful of the recent bomb threats against Jewish institutions. Evan Bernstein, the New York regional director at the Anti-Defamation League, said that Jewish “communities are hurting”.
“There are many more JCC bomb threats that have not been solved,” Mr Bernstein told journalists on Friday.
“We hope all law enforcement will continue to be diligent.”