Relieved but Alert, Jewish Groups Encouraged by Arrest as 100 Remaining Bomb Threat Cases Loom

Jewish representatives meet with FBI amid director gave them confidence that all was being done to resolve additional cases.

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People demonstrate at a Stand Against Hate rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 2, 2017.
People demonstrate at a Stand Against Hate rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 2, 2017.Credit: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images/AFP

Jewish groups expressed relief Friday afternoon after the FBI said it had arrested a suspect in at least eight cases of threats made recently against Jewish institutions across the U.S., but noted that the investigations continued into more than 100 other cases.

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The umbrella organization Jewish Community Centers (JCC) said in a statement that representatives from multiple Jewish groups had met with FBI Directory James Comey on Friday regarding the threats and that they "left with the highest confidence that the FBI is taking every possible measure to resolve the matter as quickly as possible."

The JCC also expressed gratitude for the arrest and voiced hope that investigations into other recent threats, for which Juan Thompson, 31, is not a suspect, would end in "justice."

After the suspect's arrest Friday, the Anti-Defamation League said it was relieved and gratified by the news.

>> Everything you need to know about the wave of threats terrorizing U.S. Jews <<

190 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. in 6 weeks

The ADL said in a statement that Thompson, a fired former journalist, had been on its radar ever since he fabricated a story about Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter Dylann Roof.

Authorities say Thompson made the threats in an effort to harass and vilify his former girlfriend. They say some of the threats were made in the woman's name.

Thompson was arrested in St. Louis and will appear in federal court in Missouri on Friday afternoon on a charge of cyberstalking. There was no information on an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

A Missouri police official said Thompson, 31, will also be questioned about the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, where over 100 headstones were vandalized.

>> The last time America faced an anti-Semitism wave this great - and the lessons we can learn <<

There have been over 190 allegedly anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in the past six weeks, including over 90 bomb threats called in to 73 Jewish institutions in 30 states and one Canadian province in five separate waves.

Some Jewish groups see the vandalism and threats as a sign that anti-Semitic groups have been emboldened by the election of U.S. President Trump. His campaign last year drew the support of white supremacists and other right-wing groups, despite Trump's disavowals of them.

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