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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Secret NYPD Documents Reveal Investigation Into Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Death Threats

In 2007, a teenager in Brooklyn using the anonymous handle Doom777 began posting violent threats online against the life of celebrity Shmuley Boteach.

“He is a very evil Jew, with terrible ideology, despite of the fact that he poses as a frum yid, and was at some point given a smicha,” read one post on a forum at, a website affiliated with the militant Israeli Kahane Chai movement. “He commits incessant chilluley hashem and for that imho deserves death.” A year later, the same person—a moderator on the site—posted more succinctly: “Someone shoot Shmuley Boteach.” Around the same time, the moderator changed the signature on his posts to read, “We’ll get you next time, Sternhall”—presumably a reference to Hebrew University professor Ze’ev Sternhell, whose home was attacked with a pipe bomb after he criticized settlements in the West Bank.

By that time, detectives from the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division were monitoring and other affiliates of Kahane Chai at the request of the Israel Security Agency, or Shabak—the equivalent of the FBI, better known as the Shin Bet. In 2009, according to internal NYPD documents obtained by Tablet, the NYPD used its preliminary findings as the basis for launching a Terrorism Enterprise Investigation—a designation that allows police to deploy informants and undercover officers into suspected terrorist networks—into groups affiliated with Kahane Chai, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since 1994.

But the NYPD never alerted Boteach that his life might be in danger. “If there were these threats out there, I should have known,” the rabbi said last week, in an interview at his home in New Jersey, after looking at the NYPD documents. He has a wife and nine children, he said. “This wasn’t friends warning me that I was doing something that could be dangerous,” Boteach went on. “It wasn’t people writing me directly saying they want to harm you, which I have had too many times. This was rather a world-renowned law-enforcement organization, highly credible, highly respected, saying, ‘We’re taking this seriously.’ And it kind of made me wonder why I wasn’t informed at the time.”

The NYPD declined to comment on the case, which was among dozens of secret Terrorism Enterprise Investigations the department launched in the decade following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and uncovered by the Associated Press in its two-year investigation of the NYPD’s Intelligence Division. At least a dozen of the TEIs involved mosques and other Islamic religious organizations, none of which were ever criminally charged with terrorist activity. In the case of Kahane Chai, the NYPD appears to have focused on web postings and online forums operated by members of the Kahane movement, rather than attempted to infiltrate synagogues or Jewish communal organizations in which Kahane activists were involved.

But, as in the other cases, this one appears not to have resulted in any charges ever being filed against the Kahane network or against individuals, including Doom777, named in the investigation. Attempts by Tablet to reach individuals named in investigative documents were unsuccessful.

Read more at: Tabletmag

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