Hundreds of false bomb threats to Jewish institutions are believed to originate from outside the US, FBI says

Dec 19, 2023, 4:05 PM

Hundreds of false bomb threats that were emailed over the weekend to Jewish facilities across the U...

Hundreds of false bomb threats that were emailed over the weekend to Jewish facilities across the US are believed to be connected and originating from outside the country, according to the FBI, seen here on a wall on August 10, 2022, in Omaha, Nebraska. Mandatory Credit: Charlie Neibergall/AP

(CNN) — Hundreds of false bomb threats that were emailed over the weekend to Jewish facilities across the US are believed to be connected and originating from outside the country, according to the FBI.

“At this time, based on similar language and specific email tradecraft used, it appears the perpetrators of these threats are connected. Additionally, these threats appear to be originating from outside of the United States,” the FBI said in a message to national Jewish organizations that was obtained by CNN.

“To date, none of these email threats have involved any actual explosive devices or credible risk of harm to congregants,” the bureau added.

More than 400 Jewish facilities received the false bomb threats over email since Saturday, the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish non-profit organization, said on Monday.

Oren Segal, vice president of the Center on Extremism at ADL, told CNN the organization believed one person or a small number of people were behind the threats. The emailed messages contained similarities, including the nature of the alleged threats and variations in the name of a group claiming to be responsible for them, said Segal, who had seen the messages.

Segal on Monday described the spate of bomb threats intended to inflict fear as “an old technique using modern technology” and said threats sent online are “cheaper and easier to mask than any time in human history.”

The Secure Community Network, a nonprofit, had also earlier reported more than 200 bomb threats and “swatting calls” – prank calls made to lure authorities to a location under the false pretense that a crime was committed – were made against Jewish institutions. The false threats and incidents targeted facilities in California, Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Washington and other states, the network said.

More than 30 of the FBI’s field offices across the US are investigating the threats, the bureau said.

Previously, the federal agency said it was aware of the hoaxes and there was no information to suggest a current, credible threat.

The false threats come just days after the end of Hanukkah and amid a spike of threats against the Jewish community documented since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

In the time since Hamas’ October 7 attack – and amid Israel’s ongoing siege of the enclave – reports of hate crimes and bias incidents targeting Jews, Muslims and Arabs have surged across the US.

CNN’s Sabrina Shulman and John Miller contributed to this report.

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Hundreds of false bomb threats to Jewish institutions are believed to originate from outside the US, FBI says