NYPD Official Says One Person Suspected in Most Jewish Threats, Calls for “Measured Response”
One man with some technological skill is suspected to be behind most of the series of about 150 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions in 38 states since January, John Miller, NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, said in a television interview last week. The person behind most of the threats is using a voice-changer that makes him sound like a woman, VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) technology, and phone spoofing that can not only conceal the number he is using, but also make it appear that the call is coming from a number within the location that he is threatening. There have also been “copycats,” such as the suspect who was arrested in St. Louis two weeks ago.
Miller said that in discussions with major Jewish organizations in New York, NYPD is advising a “measured response.” The offender’s characteristics show that he wants to instill fear and to cause disruption. In responding to a call that meets all elements of this pattern, a “measured response” means rather than evacuating the entire building, police may elect to conduct a perimeter search and do an interior search with an explosives detection dog. All bomb threats must be taken seriously, but Miller said that when there is a defined pattern with specific characteristics and a large number of fake calls, an all-out response, which delivers the disruption that the perpetrator is looking for, may not be necessary.
Interfaith Issues: Seattle Synagogue Vandalized With Holocaust Denial Graffiti
As nationwide incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism continue, a synagogue in Seattle was spray-painted with graffiti that denied the Holocaust (see photo). On March 10, a Seattle police officer working off-duty in the area noticed the graffiti, which called the Holocaust “fake history,” on an outside wall of the synagogue. Each “S” in the spray-painted message was replaced with a dollar sign. Seattle police have increased patrols in the area, and the Bias Crimes Unit is participating in the investigation.
In addition to this incident and the bomb threats against Jewish institutions, Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, near St. Louis, and in Rochester, New York, have been vandalized during the past month.
Florida Man Charged With Trying to Burn Store Because He Thought Indian Owners Were Muslim
A Florida man has been charged with arson after allegedly trying to set a convenience store (see photo) on fire because he thought the owners—who are of Indian origin—were Muslim. Richard Lloyd, age 64, of Port St. Lucie, told sheriff’s deputies that he “wanted to run the Arabs out of the country.” He said he pushed the dumpster to the front of the building and set the contents on fire. Firefighters quickly put out the fire. Lloyd said he assumed the owners were Muslim and that made him angry because of “what they are doing in the Middle East.” He said he planned to burn the building because he was “doing his part for America.” The St. Lucie County Sheriff said, “It is unfortunate that Mr. Lloyd made the assumption that the store owners were Arabic when, in fact, they are of Indian descent.”
This appears to be the most recent in a series of incidents in which South Asians were targeted, sometimes in the belief that they were Middle Eastern Muslims. Last week, a Sikh man in Washington State was shot while working on a car in his driveway. The gunman allegedly said, “Go back to your own country!” In February, a Kansas man shot two Indian men—whom he believed to be Iranians—in a bar, telling them, “Get out of my country!”