A Massachusetts man was arrested on Monday for allegedly threatening to kill members of the state’s Jewish community and bomb local synagogues, the US attorney’s office in Boston said, according to The Associated Press.
John Reardon, 59, of Millis, Massachusetts, allegedly called Congregation Agudas Achim in Attleboro, Massachusetts, on Jan. 25 and left a voicemail making several threats to kill congregants and bomb the synagogue, including that “if you can kill the Palestinians, we can kill you,” federal authorities said.
Ten minutes later, he allegedly made a call to another local synagogue and a Jewish organization, according to the AP report.
Reardon, who had been in the custody of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, has been charged with one count of using a facility of interstate commerce to threaten a person or place with harm via an explosive.
Reardon was scheduled to appear in US District Court in Boston on Monday afternoon. If convicted, he faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
His arrest comes amid a surge in incidents of antisemitism since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and the ensuing war in Gaza.
Data tallied by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and released earlier this month found that antisemitism in the United States has “skyrocketed” since October 7.
There were 3,283 antisemitic incidents in the United States between October 7 and January 7, according to the ADL’s report — including 60 physical assaults. It also counted 553 incidents of vandalism and 1,353 incidents of harassment.
The total number of incidents during the past three months is more than four times the number that occurred during the same period last year. The figure is higher than the total the group has recorded over the course of any full calendar year aside from 2022. By comparison, the ADL counted 2,717 antisemitic incidents during the entirety of 2021. In the whole of 2014, the year of Israel’s last ground invasion of Gaza, the ADL recorded just 912 antisemitic incidents.
Data released by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) earlier this month showed that Hamas’ October 7 terror attack on Israel has made American Jews feel less safe.
As part of an AJC public opinion survey conducted this past fall, 78% of American Jews surveyed who had heard at least a little about the terrorist attacks in Israel by Hamas said it made them feel a great deal (20%), a fair amount (23%), or a little (34%) less safe as a Jewish person in the United States. Unsurprisingly, virtually all US Jews (98%) had heard at least a little about the October 7 attacks.