Federal authorities have arrested a disgraced former journalist from St. Louis for making a number of threats against Jewish institutions as part of a vicious internet campaign against a former lover.
Juan Thompson, 31, was arrested by the FBI in St. Louis on Thursday for allegedly making bomb threats against at least eight Jewish community centers, the US Attorney’s Office said.
Thompson is alleged to have engaged in ‘a campaign to harass and intimidate’, prosecutors said.
Thompson is a former journalist who was fired from The Intercept after it was learned he had fabricated quotes and invented sources.
The news site, which focuses on national security issues, acknowledged last year that Thompson used fake email accounts to impersonate others.
He was also found to have attributed quotes to individuals in news stories even though those people later said they were never interviewed.
Thompson was charged in New York with cyberstalking a woman by ‘communicating threats to JCCs in the woman’s name.’
If convicted, Thompson faces up to five years in federal prison. He is due in a St. Louis federal court on Friday.
Federal authorities have arrested Juan Thompson (above), a disgraced former journalist from St. Louis, in connection with a number of threats made against Jewish institutions
Juan Thompson, 31, is a disgraced former journalist fired from The Intercept for fabricating quotes. He was charged by the federal government with cyberstalking
People are evacuated from the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie, Florida, on February 27 after a bomb threat. Thompson allegedly made threats against eight Jewish institutions in the name of a former lover
Thompson ‘appears to have made at least eight of the JCC threats as part of a sustained campaign to harass and intimidate’ the woman after their romance ended.
Approximately 100 Jewish centers have been threatened in recent weeks. In addition, Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized and headstones knocked over.
Thompson will also be questioned about the tombstone desecrations, authorities said.
On Monday, 21 bomb threats were phoned in to 13 JCCs and eight Jewish schools in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Thompson is also alleged to have sent ‘defamatory emails and faxes’ to the woman’s employer as well as ‘false reports of criminal activity’ by the woman.
Thompson is also alleged to have sent ‘defamatory emails and faxes’ to the woman’s employer as well as ‘false reports of criminal activity’ by the woman. He also used his Twitter to feed to allege that she was stalking him and trying to frame him
Federal authorities also say that Thompson used his Twitter feed to allege that the woman in question made threats against him as well as President Donald Trump
The tweet above was cited by the federal government in its complaint against Thompson. Here he tweeted that the woman in question was ‘a filthy anti-Semite’
Federal authorities allege that Thompson had falsely claimed that the woman possess child pornography back in October.
When questioned about the claim in November, Thompson told investigators that his internet was hacked.
The government alleges that Thompson began to make threats against Jewish institutions back in January.
On or about February 21, Thompson allegedly emailed a threat to the New York offices of the Anti-Defamation League.
A St. Louis Police car is seen outside of Thompson’s home in St. Louis on Friday
‘[The woman] is behind the bomb threats against jews,’ the email read. ‘She lives in nyc and is making more bomb threats tomorrow.’
The next day, the ADL received a phone call stating that explosive materials had been placed in its midtown Manhattan office.
The federal government also alleges that on or around February 7, a JCC in Manhattan received an emailed bomb threat from an anonymous account.
‘Juan Thompson put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today,’ the email read. ‘He wants to create Jewish newtown tomorrow.’
‘Newtown’ is a reference to Newtown, Connecticut, the site of a December 2012 school shooting that left 26 people dead, among them 20 children.
On or about February 21, Thompson allegedly emailed a threat to the New York offices of the Anti-Defamation League (seen above)
Federal authorities also say that Thompson used his Twitter feed to allege that the woman in question made threats against him as well as President Donald Trump.
Thompson claimed in the tweets that the woman was trying to frame him.
‘Y’all know how to get a social worker in NY barred?’ he tweeted on Monday. ‘I’m being stalked and harassed by a white nasty white woman in NYC.’
He tweeted that he had been questioned by the FBI and the Secret Service who were investigating the matter.
‘The Secret Service visited me looked at my tweets, questioned my politics b/c some awful white woman I date reported me,’ Thompson tweeted the same day.
‘I won’t be silenced.’
The ADL tweeted on Friday that the suspect behind the threat had been arrested
In a pinned tweet on his account, he wrote a rambling note filled with accusations against the woman and ‘the racist FBI.’
‘Two years ago, after swearing off white women, I started dating one,’ he tweeted.
‘She seemed like a cool Brooklyn white radical. There were [sic] warning signs though; she didn’t tell me she had herpes until AFTER we hooked up; she called me a thug, in an approving way, because she liked I was wearing Js and balling shorts after the gym; and she called herself captain save-a-thug – a reference to the type of black men she dated.’
‘We broke up after someone showed me the light, and since then she’s stalked and harassed me,’ he wrote. ‘[She] threatened to have me killed, and said she was going to make me a prison ‘statistic’ and looked forward to me being ‘raped’ in prison.’
‘[The woman] is a clinical [sic] director at a prominent NYC non-profit.’
‘She, though I can’t prove it, even sent a bomb threat in my name to a Jewish center, which was odd given her anti-Semitic statements.’
‘I got a visit from the FBI. So now I’m battling the racist FBI and this vile, evil, racist white woman.’
‘I’m afraid…we know what happens when white women use the law to go after black men.’
On Sunday, Thompson re-tweeted a number of news stories about the bomb threats against the JCC as well as other historical articles and references to anti-Semitism and the Nazis.
‘The hatred of Jews goes across all demos,’ he tweeted in a post that was referenced in the US Attorney’s Office complaint.
‘Ask NYC’s [employer of the woman in question,’ he tweeted. ‘They employ a filthy anti-Semite. These ppl are evil.’
‘Thompson’s alleged pattern of harassment not only involved the defamation of his female victim, but his threats intimidated an entire community,’ FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said.
‘The FBI and our partners take these crimes seriously.’
After Thompson’s arrest, Jewish community leaders met with FBI Director James Comey.
The JCC Association of North America said Friday’s meeting included discussion of threats directed against Jewish institutions in the past two months.
The association says the Jewish community is deeply grateful for the FBI’s ‘extraordinary effort.’
It says representatives left the meeting ‘with the highest confidence’ that the agency will work to resolve the matter soon.
A HISTORY OF FABRICATION
On February 2, 2016, the editor-in-chief of The Intercept, Betsy Reed, published a note explaining that Juan Thompson, who worked as a reporter for the news site, had fabricated quotes and invented news sources during his two-year stint.
Reed wrote that Thompson had created fake email accounts that he then used to impersonate people, including Reed herself.
The Intercept conducted an investigation which found that on three occasions, people were quoted even though they had never actually been interviewed.
One of Thompson’s most sensational ‘scoops’ was a now-retracted story involving Dylann Roof, the white gunman who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015.
One of Thompson’s most sensational ‘scoops’ was a now-retracted story involving Dylann Roof (above), the white gunman who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015
According to the discredited report, a man identified in the story as Roof’s cousin said that the gunman ‘kind of went over the edge when a girl he liked starting dating a black guy two years back.’
Thompson also fabricated quotes attributed to a Chicago community activist, Jasson Perez, in a story about police brutality.
‘If people thought the Ferguson municipality was corrupt, wait until they see Chicago,’ Perez is quoted in the story as saying.
A subsequent investigation by The Intercept revealed that Perez was never even interviewed.
Another story by Thompson bore the headline: ‘Black Lives Matter activists blocked from entering Trump campaign rally.’
The original story quoted a couple purported to be Trump supporters who said that they supported the candidate because of his tough policy proposals on immigration.
The article read: ‘”They need to be monitored and surveilled,” said the woman, who was only willing to be identified as Kathy from Buckhall, Virginia. “We don’t need an influx of this in America. We’ve got to stop it.” Her husband noted, “That’s what we like about Trump, he’s not afraid of the backlash. He tells the truth”.’
The Intercept found that the woman who was quoted never attended a Trump rally, nor was she a Trump supporter.
She also told The Intercept that she was never even interviewed by Thompson.
‘In his reporting Thompson also used quotes that we cannot verify from unnamed people whom he claimed to have encountered at public events,’ Reed wrote.
‘Thompson went to great lengths to deceive his editors, creating an email account to impersonate a source and lying about his reporting methods.’