Video - Search Linked to Synagogue Vandalism, Bomb Threat
CHICAGO, IL — Federal agents executed a search warrant this morning at a North Side apartment building in connection with last month's vandalism at four synagogues and Jewish schools in Chicago and Lincolnwood as well as a bomb threat to a Jewish high school.
The FBI's search warrant was related to a former New York resident who police believe is connected to the vandalism as well as written threats against Jewish institutions, a law-enforcement source said.
The search of an apartment in the 6000 block of North Artesian Avenue began about 7 a.m. and ended this afternoon. No arrests were reported.
A computer hard drive and a laptop computer were seen being taken out of the building. Agents also seized a Chevrolet van and a Nissan sport-utility vehicle.
Shortly after the FBI and Chicago police left the scene this afternoon, a 24-year-old man answered the door to the apartment and told a Tribune reporter authorities suspected him because he's Muslim. When asked why authorities would be after him, the man said he asked authorities the same question.
The Tribune is not naming the man because he hasn't been charged. The man, who is studying to be an engineer, said authorities found no evidence in the apartment and said no one was arrested.
"I'm too busy studying and working to commit [hate crimes]," the man said.
A Chicago police detective on the scene said investigators had recovered evidence that a member of the family living in the apartment had sent a threatening letter to Ida Crown Jewish Academy, an orthodox Jewish high school at 2828 W. Pratt Blvd. Rabbi Leonard Matanky, the dean of the school, told the Tribune that he understood the person apparently targeted by authorities today is suspected of sending a bomb threat to the school Dec. 31.
Four synagogues and Jewish schools in Chicago and Lincolnwood were vandalized last month in the wake of Israeli airstrikes and troop incursions into the Gaza Strip.
At Lubavitch Mesivta of Chicago, a rabbinical school and synagogue at 2756 W. Morse Ave. in Chicago, the phrase "Death to Israel" was spray-painted on an exterior brick wall. The same words appeared on the front door an Anshe Motele Congregation, 6526 N. California Ave.
Two windows were smashed at Young Israel Congregation of West Rogers Park, 2706 W. Touhy Ave.
Glass doors were shattered and "Free Palestine" and "Death to Israel" were scrawled on walls at the Lincolnwood Jewish Congregation, 7171 N. Crawford Ave.
Commenting on today's search, Judy Alexander, an administrator at the congregation, said, "You can catch one of these people, but there are five others .... That's the sad part."
Eli Azzo, 38, a neighbor of the target of the search warrant, said the man and his extended family have lived on the second floor of the building for about six years. He said the family consists of the man, his wife and a child, as well as an adult son, his wife and their baby.
"The family is nice," he said. "The guy is quick always to say hello. ... They all seem like really nice people."
(Source: Chicago Breaking News)