A 24-year-old Jordanian national from the Far North Side was arrested this morning, accused of mailing a threatening letter to the Ida Crown Jewish Academy on New Year’s Eve in response to the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, according to the FBI.
The man, whom authorities declined to identify until his initial court appearance at 10:15 a.m. in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, was the same man interviewed by federal authorities Feb. 12 when they searched his West Rogers Park apartment in the 6000 block of North Artesian Avenue for evidence related to the vandalism of several synagogues and Jewish schools in Chicago and Lincolnwood. Those incidents occurred on Jan. 10 in the wake of the Israeli airstrikes and troop incursions in the Gaza Strip.
But the FBI said this morning the man was only arrested in connection with a threatening letter sent to Ida Crown, 2828 W. Pratt Blvd., on New Year’s Eve. On the day federal authorities executed the search warrant at the apartment Rabbi Leonard Matanky, dean of Ida Crown, told the Chicago Tribune that the school received a bomb threat Dec. 31.
Sources said the man who was arrested lived in New York before moving to the West Rogers Park neighborhood about a half dozen years ago.
After the search had been completed and authorities had left on Feb. 12, a resident at the apartment identified himself by name and told reporters that he was the target of the investigation. The man, 24, denied wrongdoing and said he had been singled out by authorities because he is Muslim.
When asked why authorities would target him in particular, the man said he had asked investigators the same question.
“I’m too busy studying and working to commit [hate crimes],” the man, who indicated that he is attending school to be an engineer, said after authorities conducted their search.
(Source: Chicago Tribune)