National

FBI investigating bomb threats to Jewish community centers in 17 states

Adults and children return to St. Louis Jewish Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in St. Louis, Mo., after canine units cleared the building.
Adults and children return to St. Louis Jewish Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in St. Louis, Mo., after canine units cleared the building. AP

The FBI is probing a string of false bomb threats received by 27 Jewish community centers around the country Wednesday.

The threats were made in 17 different states just a week after a similar string was made to 16 Jewish community centers in nine states. The FBI is also investigating those fake threats, most of which were robocalls and not a live person. The calls received Wednesday, which prompted evacuations in many cases, were made by a live caller with a woman’s voice.

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner,” the organization said in a statement.

The JCC Association of North America said many organizations that received threats Wednesday were well prepared after taking part in a webinar on how to handle such incidents. It was organized after the threats made on Jan. 9.

“While we’re extremely proud of our JCCs for professionally handling yet another threatening situation, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats. While the bombs in question are hoaxes, the calls are not,” said David Posner of the JCC Association of North America in a statement.

“We know that law enforcement at both the local and national level are continuing to investigate the ongoing situation. We are relieved that no one has been harmed and that JCCs continue to operate in a way that puts the safety of their staff, visitors, and premises first.”

Wednesday’s threats were received in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Security officials say that threats made by a live person are generally more serious than a robocall.

It’s not clear if the calls on Jan. 9 were connected to the threats made Wednesday. Paul Goldenberg of the Security Community Network, an organization that advises Jewish groups on security matters, said the volume of bomb threats was unprecedented.

  Comments