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Cuomo: Bomb threats made against multiple NY Jewish Community Centers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pictured on Aug. 28, 2019 in Queens, NY. (Go Nakamura /New York Daily News/TNS)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that multiple Jewish community centers (JCC) across New York were emailed anonymous bomb threats, prompting an evacuation of an Albany location.

Cuomo, speaking to reporters outside of one of the targeted centers in the state’s capital, called the threats an act of “terror.”

“You have your children in a class in the building and they say there is a bomb threat — that is terror,” Cuomo said.

Threats were made to approximately 18 JCCs throughout New York state, Cuomo said, but he did not specify which locations were targeted. A JCC spokeswoman said that Staten Island locations were not included within the series of threats.

“Though our JCC was not specifically targeted in these threats, we are taking precautions and working with our partners in law enforcement to ensure the safety of all our members and participants,” the spokeswoman said.

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“Earlier today, emails were sent to several groups of JCCs around the country which included indication of possible bomb threats. We are working with our partners at SCN (Secure Community Network) to coordinate with Federal, state and local authorities. At this time, it is the assessment of our security partners that there is no known credible threat related to the emails,” said Doron Krakow, president and CEO of JCC Association of North America.

“Our first priority is the safety of all JCCs and JCC program participants and visitors,” Krakow said. “Having faced similar threats in 2017, our JCCs have protocols in place to respond to such scenarios. We are grateful for the immediate and ongoing response from law enforcement and we will continue to work with SCN and our JCCs to ensure participants’ safety as law enforcement continues its efforts to bring those responsible to justice.”

“There are no specific or credible threats to Jewish Community Centers in NYC at this time,” an NYPD spokesperson said, adding, “Members of the public are encouraged to help police in the shared responsibility of public safety. If you see something, say something by calling 911 or NYPD’s terrorism hotline at 888-NYC-SAFE.”

The Anti-Defamation League said on Twitter it was aware of the bomb threat and thanked authorities for their “swift action.”

The threats were made via email, which Cuomo said are “so hard to trace … because they go through different routers.”

The state Police Department aided the Albany City Police Department in scouring the evacuated JCC following the threat, Cuomo said, adding that an investigation is underway to determine where the emails originated.

Cuomo said there has been “about 42 incidents of anti-Semitism in this state this past couple of months,” adding that the recent bomb threats are “not just an anti-Semitic attack.”

“You have children who go to the JCC,” he said. “You have gym facilities here. So, you are really threatening children.”

“It is one of the most heinous things you can do. And again, it is fear and it is terror. That is all it is — terror,” he said.

In 2017, an alleged anti-Semitic bomb threat was reported at the JCC in Sea View. No bomb was found during a search of the building in that instance.

At the beginning of the year, Cuomo, among 10,000 others, marched over the Brooklyn Bridge to show support to the Jewish Community.

In mid-January, elected officials, Jewish community leaders and members of the NYPD were joined by more than 150 borough residents at the same JCC to discuss ongoing security concerns amid a rise of anti-Semitic and hate crime attacks across New York City.

The meeting came in the wake of a pair anti-Semitic attacks separated by only three weeks in New York and New Jersey, which targeted Jewish civilians, and amid a 21% spike of anti-Semitic incidents overall in New York City, NYPD data showed at the time.

The NYPD previously announced that it would add hate crimes to its publicly-available crime database — CompStat — for the first time since the stat-tracking site’s inception. Additionally, the NYPD unveiled the Racially and Ethnically Motivated Extremism — “REME” — unit, which is “focused on any trends and any signs of racially and ethnically motivated extremism,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said after the anti-Semitic shooting in Jersey City.

Sunday’s threats punctuated a tumultuous start of the year in regard to anti-Semitic acts of hatred throughout New York.

“We take every threat seriously,” Cuomo said on Sunday.

“The Jewish culture is a big part of New York. New York would not be New York without our Jewish brothers and sisters,” Cuomo added, “So I just want to say on behalf of all the good people of New York, we are sorry for this unfortunate incident, and it in no way reflects how New Yorkers feel about the Jewish community.”

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© 2020 Staten Island Advance