An Israeli-American convicted of making more than 2,000 threats against US Jewish institutions, airlines, police stations and even a professional basketball team’s plane was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday by an Israeli court.
The 20-year-old’s bomb threats against Jewish institutions in the United States sparked fears of a rise in anti-Semitism in the country. Some of the offences were committed when he was a minor, the court ruled.
Israeli courts have not identified the accused because he was tried as a minor. But he has also been indicted in the United States and US authorities have named him as Michael Ron David Kadar.
His lawyer argued that he may not have been aware of the severity of his actions because he had a brain tumour and was autistic.
The judge in the case acknowledged he was autistic, “but has a high IQ and understands his deeds very well,” the ruling said.
“If not for his medical condition, the defendant would have received a much longer sentence,” said the ruling from the Tel Aviv district youth court.
The court said he called some 2,000 institutions between April 2015 and March 2017, including schools, malls, police stations, hospitals and Jewish institutions.
He also used email to make threats, it said, and indicated that “an act of terror was going to take place in their location.”
“Terrorising the public”
Kadar, who is Jewish and from the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, was arrested in March 2017 after the wave of bomb threats against Jewish institutions in the United States.
The threats accompanied fears that hate crimes and anti-Semitic acts could be on the increase.
Rhetoric that accompanied Donald Trump’s rise to president was seen by many as encouraging the extreme right and emboldening hate groups.
The arrest of a Jewish teenager over the phone and email threats complicated the debate.
Beyond the threats to Jewish institutions, Kadar was suspected of making a hoax bomb call to Delta Airlines, forcing an emergency landing, and another against an El Al flight over Switzerland.
Swiss and French warplanes were scrambled to escort the Israeli plane and prepare to shoot it down if it became clear it was going to crash into a Swiss city.
Kadar was also convicted of making similar threats against flights over New Zealand and Australia.
Others were against a plane flying the Boston Celtics US basketball team to a game and against Delaware state senator Ernesto Lopez.
He used technology to distort his voice and hide his identity.
In addition, Kadar was accused of attacking and wounding a police officer while in custody and instructing people online on making poison and bombs. Authorities said he was also in possession of child pornography.
“The court recognised the damage and panic the defendant caused many people around the world with his actions,” Yoni Haddad of the state attorney’s cyber division said in a statement after the sentencing.
“The defendant committed his felonies with sophistication, using fake identities and with the aim of terrorising the public.”
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