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New threat against Jewish group, NYPD says

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Trump critic, and Councilman Joseph Borelli, a Trump supporter, visited a Jewish Community Center on Staten Island Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (Credit: Matthew Chayes)

A bomb threat was phoned in Tuesday morning to the Anti-Defamation League’s New York City headquarters, the Jewish organization’s second such call in two weeks, the NYPD said.

The threat and other anti-Semitic incidents reported in the city so far this year are nearly triple the number in the same time period in 2016, according to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.

Whoever made the threat, which came in at about 10 a.m., electronically disguised his or her voice and “spoofed” the originating phone number to appear as if the call was originating from inside the organization, said Etzion Neuer, a regional deputy director for the ADL, a 104-year-old Jewish civil rights organization.

“The call that came in threatened an explosive device that was lethal and that there was a time period given in which people were told they had to evacuate,” Neuer said.

Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said he heard of the threat in a cellphone call from his detective bureau while meeting on Staten Island with Jewish leaders already shaken from what Mayor Bill de Blasio has described as an “unprecedented” spike in anti-Semitic crimes in the city and nationwide.

Boyce had initially said that there were five bomb threats reported Tuesday morning in New York City, but NYPD spokesman Det. Ahmed Nasser later said the chief had misspoken, and that four were in Washington State, Boston, the District of Columbia and Atlanta — and not all Tuesday.

On Feb. 21, the ADL received an email naming a woman the emailer said “is behind the bomb threats against jews.” The organization then received a call the next day saying a bomb was inside the Manhattan office.

Juan Thompson of Missouri, a former reporter for an online news site fired for fabricating stories, was charged Friday with making those threats as retribution against his estranged girlfriend.

Boyce, O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio held the Staten Island meeting Tuesday at the Jewish Community Center, which recently received a bomb threat. That case remains unsolved, said the Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon.

De Blasio decried the threats, saying the NYPD would intensify patrols around houses of worship and other Jewish institutions across the city.

“This is a moment in time — a moment in history where forces of hate have been unleashed. And it is exceedingly unsettling to people who are the victims of that hate who have that hate directed against them,” de Blasio said.

So far this year 100 hate crimes have been reported in the city, the NYPD said. In 2016, 376 hate crimes were reported for the entire year, according to the NYPD. The years with the most hate crimes reported in the city over the past seven years were 2012 with 403, and 2010 with 379.

There have been 55 anti-Semitic hate crimes reported so far this year compared to 19 in the same time period in 2016, O’Neill said.

De Blasio has blamed the political rhetoric from Donald Trump’s presidency and campaign for creating a climate that is conducive to anti-Semitism and other bigotry.

Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island), a Trump supporter who joined de Blasio’s news conference in the borough, said the fault for more hateful incidents belongs to a long-running movement to boycott, disinvest and sanction Israel, as well as United Nations criticism of the Jewish state.

Figures distributed by the mayor’s office showed that hate crimes have skyrocketed since Election Day.


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