On Thursday, March 23, authorities apprehended the person responsible for the bulk of bomb threats that have plagued the American Jewish community in recent months. The Israeli-American teen accused of making the threats used extremely sophisticated identity masking techniques, which made it difficult for investigators to identify him. It was only after the suspect made an error in his security routine that he was caught. The remaining threats, which were not attributed to the teen, were allegedly made by former journalist Juan Thompson, who was arrested earlier this month.
These arrests are undoubtedly good news and hopefully will put an end to the waves of threats that have caused months of terror and disruption at Jewish institutions around the world. This resolution stands in contrast, however, to another wave of threats directed at American religious institutions. Starting late last fall, at least a dozen mosques around the country received the same threatening letter, addressing Muslims as “Children of Satan.” The sender claimed that President Donald Trump is “going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews,” and signed the message “Americans for a Better Way.”
And my mosque becomes the latest to receive a copy of the antisemitic cowboy hate letter preaching genocide of Muslims. Ugly times. pic.twitter.com/QJ26PvVmUu
— Kecia Ali (@kecia_ali) December 2, 2016
The letters received a fair amount of coverage when they first appeared at mosques in the fall, but, since then, there has been little follow up on the story and no arrests have been made. After a period of inactivity, another letter was sent to a mosque in Iowa just this past week.
“Americans for a Better Way” is not the only source of written threats against American mosques. Throughout the month of February, mosques in the state of Georgia were sent a variety of letters and emails filled with threats of violence against Muslims. During the last week in February, two mosques in Maryland received threatening letters. During the first week in March, mosques in six states received written bomb threats. And the list goes on.
The FBI is investigating some of these incidents, though it appears it has not designated the “Americans for a Better Way” letters a hate crime. The president of the Iowa mosque told USA Today he is meeting with the FBI on Monday.
Threatening letters are just one facet of the many attacks recently directed at Muslim institutions. Between January 1 and March 20 of this year, there have been thirty-three documented threats, acts of vandalism, and arson attacks against American mosques, according to CNN, a nearly 100% increase from the same period last year.