Virginia man charged in targeting of Jews and African-Americans with fake bomb threats


(JTA) — A 19-year-old Virginia man has been charged with calling in false bomb threats and active shootings as part of a network of white supremacists.

John William Kirby Kelley of Vienna was charged Friday by the U.S. Department of Justice with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, specifically interstate threats to injure.

Kelley is accused of being part of a network that “shared racist views” and had a “particular disdain for African Americans and Jewish people,” and targeted them in the swatting attacks, a practice in which fake emergencies are called in to authorities to draw a large law enforcement response, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Friday, The Associated Press reported..

Among the targets were a historic black church in Alexandria, Virginia; campus buildings at Old Dominion University, where Kelley was registered; and an address for a person under Secret Service protection, an FBI agent said in the affidavit filed in federal court in Virginia, The New York Times reported.

Investigators traced hundreds of calls to Kelley beginning in November 2018.

The FBI characterized the members of the swatting ring as neo-Nazi sympathizers and said they used racial slurs and anti-Semitic language in their discussions about potential targets, according to the newspaper.

Much of the communication took place on the dark web, specifically the Deadnet Internet Relay Chat channel, also known as #Graveyard, which is similar to an online chat room, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Some involved in these communications, including Kelley, were sympathetic to neo-Nazi ideology and loosely associated with the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division.

Anti-Semitism and racism feature prominently in social media accounts that appear to be linked to Kelley, according to the ADL.

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