A 19-year-old Israeli-American is in police custody on suspicion of being behind multiple bomb threats to various Jewish organizations and an airline.
The teenager, who was recently revealed to be Michael Kaydar, is a resident of Ashkelon, Israel.
His detainment was authorized by the FBI under suspicions that he may be behind the wave of anti-Semitic threats against various Jewish community centers in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
During the months-long buildup to his arrest, a special cybercrime unit of the Israeli Police Force was deployed to track down the teenager despite his use of Bitcoin, SpoofCard, and Google Voice to retain his anonymity.
Suspect Used Bitcoin, Google Voice, to Facilitate Anonymity
The FBI’s initial attempt to trace his number resulted in the discovery of a decoy number that had been set up as an anonymity tactic; Kaydar used an alias through Google Voice’s call forwarding service.
Following the raid, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld concluded that the suspect carried out his anti-Semitic threats with the help of anonymity software to mask his IP address, SpoofCard to alter his voice, and Google Voice and Bitcoin to stymie any efforts to trace his calls.
In the incident of the called in bomb threat to an airline, the Israeli teenager was heard threatening to kill all the Jews on board a particular flight.
According to an audio recording obtained by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, his voice had been digitally engineered to sound like a woman’s by using anonymity software.
The suspect’s lawyer, Galit Bash, has come forward to state that her client is suffering from a medical condition which could have influenced him to carry out these hoax bomb threats.
Other than stating that the condition was “very serious” and that it had prevented Kaydar from attending school and from being allowed to serve in the military, Bash did not disclose any additional information concerning the nature of the medical condition.
She is, however, certain that the medical condition will affect the outcome of the investigation.
Origin of Phone Calls Traced to Israel despite the Use of Anonymity Tools
Kaydar’s efforts to mask his location using an array of anonymity tools were apparently thwarted by a major slip-up on his end.
Investigators in Australia and New Zealand traced the anti-Semitic threats back to an IP address logged inside an Israeli server after he momentarily forgot to use anonymity software to cloak his internet connection.
Part of the anonymity equipment used by the teenager included sophisticated computer hardware, a large antenna, and an anonymity service called SpoofCard, which he paid for with Bitcoin to avoid leaving any paper trails leading back to him, which disguised his voice.
According to the Israeli police cyber unit’s head of technology Yaniv Azani, the teenager employed several techniques to retain both his locational anonymity and to prevent anyone from recognizing his voice.
He admitted that various communication mechanisms had to be employed at an “unusually sophisticated” level in order to achieve full anonymity when making the calls.
The Co-founder of BigID, a US-Israeli Cybersecurity firm, confirmed that the teenager’s anonymity skills required a certain level of sophistication to use, leading him to believe that he is an experienced hacker.
Teenager’s Detainment Marks the Second Arrest in Relation to anti-Semitic Crimes
In an earlier report by The Guardian, various Jewish community centers based in the US had received close to 50 bomb threats anonymity since the beginning of 2017.
This includes a call that said there was a C-4 bomb planted somewhere within the premises of a Jewish center according to this audio.
The US Anti-Defamation League has reported a total of 166 bomb threats to JCCs and other Jewish institutions since the Trump administration took office in January.
The threats have accentuated the rising unrest over the anti-Semitic atmosphere in the US, which have cumulated in a series of vandalistic attacks on various Jewish entities.
The Israeli teenager is the second to be arrested in connection with the anti-Semitic bomb threats after former journalist Juan Thompson was arrested earlier this year in connection to eight of the bomb threats.
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