Teen accused of threatening JCCs charged in Israel with extortion, causing panic
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Teen accused of threatening JCCs charged in Israel with extortion, causing panic

The American-Israeli teenager arrested on suspicion of making over 100 bomb threats to American JCCs leaving court in Rishon Lezion, Israel, March 23, 2017. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli-American teenager accused of making threats against Jewish community centers in the United States was charged with extortion and several other offenses in a Tel Aviv court.

The teen from Ashkelon, in southern Israel, was charged Monday in district court with thousands of counts on offenses that also include publishing false information, causing panic, computer hacking and money laundering. He was arrested in Israel last month in a joint operation with the FBI and cannot be named in reports originating from Israel.

According to the indictment, the teen, who has dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, made threats to 2,000 institutions around the world, including the Israeli Embassy in Washington and other Israeli diplomatic missions, schools, malls, police stations, hospitals and airlines.

Threats to three airlines, including Israel’s national carrier El Al, led to planes making emergency landings, dumping fuel and requiring military escorts, according to the indictment.

He is also charged with threatening a Delaware lawmaker, Sen. Ernesto Lopez, for publicly criticizing the person who made the threatening calls to Jewish institutions, including sending illicit drugs to Lopez’s home and threatening to publish photographs and call the authorities to arrest him for possession. The teen also is charged with harassing a former Pentagon official, George Little, including threatening to kidnap and kill his children.

Other charges include buying drugs, running an online hacking and document forging service, buying and selling weapons online, and possession of child pornography, as well as the assault of an Israeli police officer who came to arrest him, according to The Times of Israel.

Israel’s state prosecutor, Shai Nitzan, has opposed allowing the teen’s extradition to the United States, Haaretz reported Monday, echoing a report from Sunday on Israel’s Channel 2 that said Israel has rejected a U.S. Justice Department extradition request. A formal extradition request has not been filed, according to Haaretz, but in informal negotiations Israeli justice officials have said they want to put the teen on trial in Israel.

The Justice Department said Friday that it was charging the teen with 28 counts of making threatening calls to JCCs in Florida, conveying false information to the police and cyberstalking.

The teen’s parents and attorney have said he has a benign brain tumor that affects his behavior, as well as a very low IQ.