April 27 2017
The suspect behind 591 bomb hoaxes sent to Australian schools has been revealed as an Israeli-American teenager working from his suburban bedroom for secret online bidders.
Michael Ron David Kadar, 18, who lives in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, has been charged by Israeli authorities with making 2000 automated bomb and shooting hoax calls to schools, airlines, hospitals and Jewish centres in the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.
Victoria Police, which led the Australian arm of the international investigation, confirmed that the 18-year-old is believed to be behind hundreds of hoax calls sent to schools over several months last year.
“The Victoria Police E-Crime Squad provided vital cyber evidence which resulted in the arrest of the Israeli suspect,” Superintendent Pat Boyle said.
“Israeli police acknowledged they could not have done it without us.”
In just one of several hits, hundreds of schools in Queensland, Tasmania, NSW, the ACT and South Australia were targeted over four consecutive days in February 2016.
Many received the same automated message about a bomb on site.
It caused major chaos as thousands of children were evacuated, exams were disrupted and police resources were diverted.
Michael Ron David Kadar, pictured in an Israeli court, was arrested after allegedly threatening schools, airlines, hospitals and Jewish centres in the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. Photo: Reuters
At the time, an online account with the name Evacuation Squad claimed responsibility and was asking people to pay bitcoins to have their school of choice targeted.
It offered set prices: a school cost $US5 ($7), a courthouse $US10, a major convention or sports event $US20.
Police undertook an operation at Sydney Girls High School following a hoax call in February. Photo: Jessica Kidd, ABC News
A person using a Russian IP address and the name Viktor Olyavich responded to email questions on behalf of the Squad, telling Fairfax Media their motive.
“Those being: one, they are entertaining for us; two, we make money off them sometimes; and three, just for the mayhem of it.”
Pupils from Penrith High School were evacuated following a hoax call in February. Photo: Channel Seven
Israeli authorities have not offered a motive for the attacks but Mr Kadar’s lawyer in Israel said the teenager had a high IQ but the emotional intelligence of a five-year-old.
His US-born mother said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that her son was home-schooled after he was unable to function in school due to a brain tumour.
“He’s autistic,” she said. “He can’t control it. He can’t think straight.”
Mr Kadar, who is Jewish, allegedly used masking technology to hide his location and disguise his voice.
He allegedly set fees for particular calls and kept a log of all calls on a flash drive found in his laptop in his bedroom.
Israeli media reports say he had almost $US500,000 in his bitcoin account at the time of his arrest, some purportedly coming from students who wanted exams postponed.
The identities or motives of the people who paid Mr Kadar remain a mystery.
Mr Kadar’s name is suppressed in Israel yet his identity was made public in the US last week when federal courts in Florida and Georgia filed criminal complaints.
The cases relate to 245 threatening hoax calls, mostly sent to Jewish centres.
In some calls, Mr Kadar allegedly used the voice of a woman to describe, in graphic detail, how he would kill children.
He forced several flights to be diverted in Australia and abroad, including one in Canada that resulted in six people being injured when passengers had to disembark via emergency slides.