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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

April 21, 2017  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

4 threats to Tampa JCC Preschools detailed in charges filed against teen

By KAREN DAWKINS and BOB FRYER Jewish Press

Four telephone threats to the Tampa JCC Preschools form the heart of the case the U.S. Department of Justice is making against an Israeli-American teen involving bomb threats or active shooter threats.

On Friday, April 21 the federal government filed its first complaints in U.S. District courts in Orlando and Macon, GA against Michael Ron David Kadar, 18, of Ashkelon, Israel, charging him with making threatening calls, perpetrating a hoax and cyberstalking in 17 specific instances in Florida, including Tampa, plus one case in Georgia.

Authorities say in total Kadar is responsible for at least 245 threatening calls on at least 15 dates between Jan. 4 and March 7 with up to 69 in just one day. A large portion targeted JCCs and other Jewish institutions in the U.S.

Kadar, who authorities say has dual Israel- U.S. citizenship, was arrested last month in Israel in connection with the threats and remains jailed there. It’s unknown if or when he will be extradited to the U.S. to face the charges.

Although no actual explosives or gunmen were found, many of the calls resulted in the temporary closure and evacuation or lockdown of the targeted facilities, and required law enforcement and emergency personnel to respond and clear the area.

The series of threats also sent shockwaves through Jewish communities throughout the country, stoking fears about a spike in anti- Semitism and creating anxiety, especially among parents of the schools targeted.

“This kind of behavior is not a prank, and it isn’t harmless. It’s a federal crime,” FBI Director James Comey said in a statement announcing the charges. “It scares innocent people, disrupts entire communities, and expends limited law enforcement resources. The FBI thanks our partners for working with us here at home and around the world.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions added, “These threats of violence instilled terror in Jewish and other communities across this country and our investigation into these acts as possible hate crimes continues.”

Besides the threats in Tampa, Kadar is charged in the Florida case with making three calls to the Roth JCC in Orlando, two to the Chabad South in Orlando, two to the Hebrew Day School in Fort Myers and two calls to Jacksonville Jewish institutions.

The same complaint charged Kadar with a threat to the Orlando International Airport, on Feb. 16. The caller claimed he helped an accomplice smuggle a bomb aboard a United Airlines flight. On the same day, the complaint states the suspect made calls to approximately 25 facilities in the U.S and Canada, including one saying there was a bomb at an Orlando public middle school.

All these cases are within the federal court’s Middle District of Florida, which stretches from Fort Myers to Jacksonville.

Threats to Tampa JCC Preschools

The criminal complaint states that on Jan. 5, Kadar called the Tampa JCC North Preschool, on the Cohn Campus in the Citrus Park area at 11:48 a.m. and claimed to have three handguns, saying he was coming to the school to kill children and would be there soon.

A minute later, the complaint states, Kadar called the Tampa JCC Preschool South, located on the grounds of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in south Tampa. The complaint alleges that Kadar made the chilling assertion that there was a bomb inside and made graphic claims on the bomb’s effect. “Kadar claimed to be in a car by the school with the detonator in hand,” the complaint states. On that day, Kadar is alleged to have made a total of approximately 67 threatening calls.

On Jan. 9, Kadar is alleged to have made 52 threatening calls, including one at 10:50 a.m. to the Tampa JCC Preschool South, again stating there was a bomb in the school and threatening the same consequences. Within less than 15 minutes after that call, Kadar had made bomb threat calls to the Roth JCC in Orlando and the Jewish Community Alliance in Jacksonville.

On Feb. 20, at approximately 11:08 a.m., prosecutors allege Kadar called the Tampa JCC Preschool South and said the bomb was as large as a suitcase and was surrounded by a few bags of shrapnel that would go off in about an hour and a number of “Jew children” would be killed.

Other charges

A separate complaint filed April 21 in Georgia federal court alleges that on Jan. 3 the teenager made a call to police claiming a home invasion was in progress at a residence in Athens, GA. The complaint notes that investigators linked Kadar to similar threatening calls to the same residence and bomb threats to schools (none Jewish) in Georgia and Tennessee back in 2015.

During the investigation into the Georgia case, which included coordination with Israeli officials to trace the IP address of the computer used, authorities found a connection to the Florida cases. Ultimately, FBI agents traveled to Israel to work with their counterparts to locate the suspect.

How he did it

Kadar allegedly perpetrated the phone calls by using a “spoofing company” – which he paid for with Bitcoin, a semi-anonymous type of currency – that enabled him to disguise his voice, often as a female. The complaint tells how the investigation led to his home in Israel, despite the suspect’s use of a variety of virtual private networks that aim to conceal the user’s computer

IP address.

When Kadar’s home in Israel was searched, recordings of the threatening calls were found on a flash drive, organized by date, geographic location and delineating the target along with news reports specific to the JCC threats, the complaint states.

In addition, with assistance of the spoofing company, the FBI was able to remove the modulation used to disguise the caller’s voice, revealing a distinct speech impediment, which investigators claim matches Kadar’s.

Though charges have only been filed in Florida and Georgia, the complaint notes records of hundreds of threats to Jewish and non-Jewish facilities throughout the U.S. and elsewhere were found at Kadar’s home.

Kadar’s parents and attorney have said he has a benign brain tumor that affects his behavior.


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