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Massachusetts man arrested for allegedly threatening Jewish community members and to bomb synagogues

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts man was arrested Monday for allegedly threatening to kill members of the state’s Jewish community and a bomb local synagogues, the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said.

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.

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 U.S. District Court in Boston 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.

A number could not be found for Reardon and it wasn’t immediately clear if he has an attorney.

“The allegations here about the series of threats Mr. Reardon made against the Jewish community are deeply disturbing and reflect the increasing torrent of antisemitism across our country and right here in Massachusetts," Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy said in a statement. “The numbers do not lie — incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia are spiking.”

Jodi Cohen, special agent in charge of the FBI, Boston Division, accused Reardon of “using his words as a weapon, leaving a threatening message to frighten members” of Congregation Agudas Achim.

“No one should have to fear becoming the victim of physical violence at the hands of an angry stranger," Cohen said.

Since the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel’s subsequent bombardment of Gaza, there has been a sharp rise in incidents of harassment and claims of bias against both Jewish and Muslim communities.

Hamas’ attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. About 250 people were taken captive, according to Israeli authorities. It set off an air and ground offensive by Israel’s military that has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, most of them women and minors, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its count.