The Department of Justice has announced federal hate crime charges against Michael Kadar, a dual American-Israeli citizen accused of making thousands of threatening calls to Jewish centers across the U.S. in early 2017 and stoking fear amid a wave of anti-Semitic incidents throughout the country.
Mr. Kadar, 19, was named in three separate federal indictments unsealed Wednesday in connection with allegedly making threats against Jewish targets in Florida, D.C. and Georgia, adding dozens of new criminal counts to a laundry list of charges announced last year and earning praise from advocates who had pleaded with prosecutors to charge him with hate crimes.
In Florida, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Kadar with hate crimes for allegedly repeatedly calling Jewish community centers across the state and reporting bomb threats and active shooter situations, effectively “attempting to obstruct the free exercise of religion,” according to prosecutors. Additionally he made similar threats to victims including a middle school and the Orlando International Airport, among others, repeatedly prompting closures, evacuations and lockdowns, prosecutors alleged.
In D.C., federal prosecutors separately charged Mr. Kadar with allegedly transmitting threats to both the Anti-Defamation League and the Israeli Embassy last March. In Georgia, prosecutors charged Mr. Kadar with cyberstalking and conveying false information for allegedly reporting a bogus hostage situation last January.
“When individuals target victims of their crimes based on who they are, what they believe, or how they worship, they target the bedrock principles on which our nation was founded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “These alleged threats of violence instilled fear in the Jewish community and other communities across the country, and it is the Justice Department’s duty to make sure all Americans can live their lives without this type of fear.”
Mr. Kadar was arrested in Israel last March, and in April he was charged by U.S. prosecutors with more than two dozen criminal counts in connection with allegedly placing nearly 250 threatening calls during the first three months of 2017. He was separately indicted by the Israeli State Prosecutor’s office with allegedly threatening and intimidating more than 2,000 institutions around the world, and he has been held in Israeli custody awaiting trial, local media reported Thursday.
Authorities have not said if Mr. Kadar will be extradited to the U.S. and/or if he will be tried abroad. Each of the 10 hate crime charges he faces carries a maximum of 20 years imprisonment upon conviction, the Justice Department said in a statement.
“Make no mistake, these threats were acts of anti-Semitism and deserve to be treated as a hate crime,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group allegedly targeted by Mr. Kadar. “They targeted Jewish institutions in order to stoke fear and anxiety, and put the entire Jewish community on high alert,” he said in a statement.
“We again call on Congress to enact legislation to expand federal protections against bomb threats to religious institutions. The House of Representatives approved their version of this measure in December and now the Senate must act without hesitation,” he said.
The number of anti-Semitic incidents reported within the U.S. spiked by nearly 60 percent in 2017, the ADL said in a report earlier this mark, constituting the largest single-year spike since the organization began keeping track in 1979.