A 42-year-old man from West Virginia was finally taken under custody over accusations that he had carry out a hoax to blow up the Statue of Liberty in April this year. In the wake of the incident, more than 3,000 people were evacuated from the site.
Jason Smith was arrested this week and charged of carrying out the hoax and providing local authorities with misleading information about his plans.
In late April, he called a 911 operator and told her that his name was Abdul Yasin, and lied that he was tied to an ISIS organization and that he and his extremist friends were about to “blow up” one of America’s dearest symbols, court papers read.
Abdul Yasin is the real name of a terrorist that was charged with the bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993. During that bombing, terrorists placed a truck bomb below the North Tower of the WTC. The plan was to crash the tower into its southern counterpart and kill thousands of people. Only six people were killed in the attempt. Yasin allegedly manufactured the bombs but he was the only 1993 WTC bombing terrorist who was never caught.
After Smith’s 911 call, NYC police officers and the Joint Terrorist Task Force isolated the Liberty Island and with help from especially trained dogs they looked for bombs in Statue of Liberty’s area all day long. In the process, they evacuated staffers and tourists from the setting, but at the end of the day they concluded that the bombing threat was just a hoax.
Alexander Hirst, special agent of New York City’s JTTF, noted that the defendant made the threat through a service designed to help people with hearing issues make and receive phone calls. Police officers found that Smith featured as a student of a school for the deaf some time ago.
Investigators also learned that the iPad Smith used to make the call was the same device used by the man in making two other fake 911 calls. In one call he threatened that he would shot down the police officers at the Brooklyn Bridge, while in the second call he threatened he would bomb Times Square’ bridge, although there isn’t such structure in the area.
In January, 18 more 911 calls were issued from an account that belonged to Smith. The calls were made over the course of only three days, according to the complaint.
Smith was convicted twice over false threats. In 2001, he was convicted by a Virginia court because he sent death and physical harm threats, while five years later he was convicted again by the same court on charges of bombing and arson threats.
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