NEW YORK CITY — A St. Louis man has been arrested for making threats to Jewish groups across the country — including several in Manhattan — in what federal prosecutors said was an attempt to frame his ex-girlfriend.
Juan Thompson, 31, was arrested Friday in Missouri after waging a monthslong campaign to harass his former girlfriend, culminating in sending threats to Jewish organizations and institutions while pretending to be her, according to his criminal complaint.
Thompson was on the Anti-Defamation League's extremism watch list for his fabricated coverage of South Carolina church shooter Dylann Roof, and he once claimed he was running for mayor of St. Louis to "fight back against Trumpian fascism and socio-economic terrorism,” according to the ADL.
READ THE FULL COMPLAINT BELOW.
"Threats of violence targeting people and places based on religion or race — whatever the motivation — are unacceptable, un-American, and criminal," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "We are committed to pursuing and prosecuting those who foment fear and hate through such criminal threats."
His campaign of harassment began soon after the couple broke up in June 2016 and escalated with a series of at least eight threats against Jewish centers across the nation between January and February. In those incidents, Thompson called or emailed the centers, threatening to blow them up, prosecutors said.
Sometimes he would use his ex-girlfriend's name, while in other cases he would use his own name and then blame her for framing him, investigators said.
In every instance, investigators swept the buildings and found no explosives, officials said.
Thompson's spree began on Jan. 28, when he reached out to a Manhattan museum devoted to Jewish history to say he'd planted "2 bombs in the History Museum set to go off Sunday," officials said. Federal officials did not identify which Jewish museum he threatened.
Five days later, Thompson emailed threats to a Jewish school in Manhattan — the identity of which was not revealed by authorities — writing, "Juan Thompson put two bombs in your school last night. He is eager for Jewish newtown," referring to the 2012 massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut.
On Feb. 20, he emailed a San Diego Jewish Community Center to say his ex "hates Jewish people" and wanted to "kill as many Jews asap," officials said.
"Ask her acquaintances she hates Jews," he added.
The next day, Thompson emailed the Council on American-Islamic relations to claim his ex-girlfriend place a bomb in a Dallas Jewish center, before reaching out to the Anti-Defamation League to say she "is behind the bomb threats against jews," investigators said.
He sent two separate threats to the Anti-Defamation League's Midtown East headquarters on Feb. 21 and 22, in which he used a voice modulator to warn them that there was explosive C4 in their office that would be "detonated within the hour," officials said.
The complaint did not link Thompson to any of the threats made against the JCC in Staten Island.
“We are relieved and gratified that the FBI has made an arrest in these cases. We applaud law enforcement’s unwavering effort to resolve this matter,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement Friday. “We look forward to the quick resolution of the remaining open cases.”
When confronted by authorities, Thompson claimed his email was hacked and that he didn't send the accusations.
On Feb. 27 he wrote on Twitter that he had been questioned by the Secret Service.
"The @SecretService visited me looked at my tweets, questioned my politics b/c some awful white woman I date reported me. I won't be silenced,"
Thompson's ex-girlfriend — whose name was withheld by federal investigators — had gotten an order of protection against him from a New York judge, but it did nothing to stop him from harassing her, officials said.
He threatened to release nude photographs of her, contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to claim she had photos on her phone "of a child engaged in sex acts," and called her workplace to accuse her of being anti-Semitic and threatening to kill him.
When investigators contacted Thompson, he claimed he'd been hacked and didn't think she actually had the illegal pornography, federal prosecutors said.
Thompson lists his employer as the St. Louis-based Gateway Housing Foundation on his Twitter handle. All phone numbers listed for the company were disconnected. His prior work included a stint at The Intercept, where he was accused of plagarism, inventing quotes and creating fake email accounts. He also had a brief internship at DNAinfo Chicago that ended in 2013.
Statement on the arrest of former Intercept reporter Juan Thompson: https://t.co/XTRLIUYqVp— The Intercept (@theintercept) March 3, 2017
Thompson went before a St. Louis judge Friday on charges of cyberstalking and faces up to five years in prison if convicted, authorities said. His case will be brought before a grand jury in New York and he will be extradited to New York if he's indicted, according to Bharara's office.
See below for Thompson's full criminal complaint: