Tuesday, May 30, 2017

[dlpbytpq] False flag bomb threats to Jewish synagogues

In the weeks and months following the election of Trump were a series of bomb threats called into Jewish synagogues and community centers.  At the time, these were assumed to be the work of anti-Semetic white supremacists emboldened by the election of one of their own into the White House.  However, it seems this was not the case:

"Israeli man arrested as prime suspect in string of bomb threats against Jewish community centers" (Chicago Tribune, March 2017)

From a cryptographic standpoint, the most interesting detail is that law enforcement seems to have pierced the anonymity provided by Tor to discover the suspect.  It would be nice if the suspect stands trial, so that the defense can publicly examine and challenge both the evidence against the suspect, and critically, how it was acquired and connected to the suspect, so that the public can know the extent of the state's surveillance capabilities, and so Tor can correct any vulnerabilities that the authorities exploited.  The "standard" method of defeating Tor is traffic analysis: just how much traffic metadata, and where, are authorities collecting?

Politically, there are some more interesting questions.

Both the name of the suspect and his father, also arrested, have been kept secret.  This seems unusual.  Is it by order of the Israeli Military Censor?  Had the suspect -- presumed Jewish -- been Arab or Muslim, would the names have been released (or leaked)?

Because of crimes, quite serious, committed against American institutions, it seems reasonable to extradite the suspect to stand trial, and if convicted, be punished, in America.  What is the status of the extradition?  Is it encountering diplomatic roadblocks?

Are the Jewish centers targeted in the bomb threats dropping charges now that they know "one of their own" (presumably) is the prime suspect?  Are they being diplomatically encouraged to do so?

The bomb threats appear to be a classic "false flag" operation (though other explanations are possible): it made it look, to Jews, like an enemy was attacking them, in order to galvanize them and motivate them to political (or other) action.  If so, it seems it was a very successful operation, very perceptive about the current American political climate, the media's tendency to report heavily on the bomb threats, and even to the media's disinterest in following up after the arrest.

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