The Federal Bureau of Investigation and local police are investigating the source of Monday’s “robocall bomb threats” to 16 Jewish community centers in nine states. So far, no bombs have been found. According to Reuters, security officials said on Tuesday that the wave of telephone bomb threats possibly came from the same number, via an automated calling system.
But Paul Goldenberg, national director of nonprofit Secure Community Network advising Jewish groups on security matters, told Reuters only a few calls used “robocalling” and the rest were made manually.
So far the FBI has not mentioned suspects, motive, or a theory as to why the callers targeted Jewish centers in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and South.
“Bomb threats to Jewish communities are nothing new,” Goldenberg told Reuters. “What’s extraordinary is that we had so many in such a short period of time.”
Back in May, 2016, a wave of threats driven by automated calls were directed at schools across at least four US time zones, forcing authorities to lock down school buildings and evacuate students. Some districts reported that the calls included a bomb threat while others just described the calls as “threatening.” The calls were reported in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
Monday’s phone calls were made to JCCs in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Also on Monday, nine Jewish and non-Jewish schools across UK were put on alert after hoax bomb threats. The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Police were alerted at around 10:30 AM hrs on Monday, 9 January, to phone calls made to schools in Roehampton, Ilford and Brent in which bomb threats were made. Police officers attended the schools. All three incidents were stood down a short time later. An investigation into the threat will be conducted.”
It is still not clear if the calls against the British and American schools were related. According to Reuters, an analysis indicated the UK calls came from separate countries.