Israeli Hacker, Jailed for Terrorizing U.S. JCCs, Gets Another Year for Bomb Threats

After being sentenced to seven years in prison in 2018, the man called two elementary schools in central Israel and an Eilat hotel claiming that he had planted bombs at their facilities

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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The hacker in court for his original charges, Tel Aviv, June 28, 2018
The hacker in court for his original charges, Tel Aviv, June 28, 2018Credit: Meged Gozani
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

An Israeli hacker who is serving a seven-year jail term for making bomb threats from his home in Ashkelon to thousands of public institutions around the world, including a number of Jewish community centers in the United States, was sentenced by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday to an additional year in prison and a year’s probation for making addition threats from jail.

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The man, whose name is the subject of a gag order because some of his offenses were committed while he was a minor, was given the additional sentence for making calls from Nitzan prison to two elementary schools in central Israel and a hotel in Eilat. He claimed that he had planted bombs at their facilities. The magistrate’s court decided that all but 45 days of the additional sentence would be served concurrently with his seven-year sentence, rather than as additional time.

The prisoner, who is now 21, and also holds American citizenship, was sentenced 10 years in prison two years ago for the international wave of bomb threats that he had made to thousands of institutions and corporations, claiming that he had planted bombs or that they would be targeted in shooting attacks. His calls to Jewish institutions in the United States prompted concern about a surge in anti-Semitism in the country.

His 10-year prison term was later reduced to seven years. According to the indictment for the recent incidents, he called the two elementary schools using another prisoner’s phone. As a result of his threats, the students at the schools were evacuated and police and sappers were dispatched to the schools. Police were also called to the Eilat hotel that the man had called to search for bombs.

The perpetrator attends court, Rishon Letzion, March 23, 2017Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

In his initial spree of threat – from 2015 until he was arrested in 2017 – he made contact with thousands of institutions and companies in 13 countries by phone or in writing, threatening that they would be the target of acts of terrorism or killings. The threats were issued via the internet using sophisticated technology that concealed his location. According to his indictment, the threats created panic and required the evacuation of public facilities and even the grounding of aircraft in mid-flight.

In addition to the United States and Israel, the countries affected were Australia, Ireland, Britain, Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, Canada and Sweden.

He also offered to make similar threatening calls in exchange for payment on the darknet and attempted to sell videos about his methods. He also hired the services of other people to make telephone threats on his behalf.

A number of people purchased what he was selling, paying him in bitcoin. According to the indictment, his bitcoin account was worth 873,000 shekels ($247,000).

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