Ashkelon Hacker Convicted Over JCC Bomb Threats
Written by Mara Vigevani/TPS on June 28, 2018
The Tel Aviv District court convicted a 19-year- old Israeli-American teenage dubbed the “Hacker from Ashkelon” on Thursday on multiple counts of bomb threats to airports, schools and Jewish centers in 2016 and 2017 mostly in the United States, but also in Israel.
The teen’s name remains under a gag order as he committed most of the crimes when he still was a minor.
The court heard that he made over 2,000 threats, including a flight with on board the Boston Celtics that was temporarily halted while the airplane was checked, a flight in Europe, that was accompanied by the French air force, and many other flights, schools, malls and institutions and convicted him of extortion, publishing false information, cyber crimes and money laundering as well as several other counts.
He was found guilty of offenses he committed after having turned 18, however regarding acts he committed while he was still a minor, the court is pending the evaluation of a youth probation officer.
Judge Tzvi Gorfinkel rejected claims that he was mentally unfit to stand trial and said he was fully aware of the consequences of his actions. The defense had claimed that as a result of a brain tumor, he suffered from mental problems making him incapable of understanding the nature of his actions.
The cyber unit of the Israel Police arrested the teen at his home in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon on March 2017 after a trans-Atlantic investigation conducted together with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other international law enforcement agencies.
Police said they found sophisticated “camouflage technologies” used to disguise his voice and hide his identity, along with antennae and satellite equipment.
According to the prosecution documents, the Ashkelon hacker recorded all of his threats and kept them in organized files along with news articles describing the police responses to the threats. He paid for the online calls using Bitcoin because of its semi-anonymous nature. The police uncovered NIS 900.000 worth of the cryptocurrency in an account held by the teen – he earned the money trading in Bitcoin.
The Israeli Ministry of Justice was reported earlier this year to have denied an informal request from the US to extradite the teen.