In late April, more than 3,000 tourists were forced to evacuate the Statue of Liberty after someone dialed in a bomb threat to 911. The warning was a hoax, but authorities have now arrested a 42-year-old West Virginia man as the alleged caller.
Jason Paul Smith was taken into custody in Texas and will appear in court Wednesday; he is charged with conveying false or misleading information and hoaxes.
Smith, who is apparently deaf and made the threat with a program for the hearing-impaired, said he was an “ISI terrorist” and identified himself as Abdul Yasin, which, according to an affidavit, is also the name of terrorist who participated in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — the only one never captured. In May, Smith also contacted 911 under the very specific alias of “ISIS Allah Bomb Maker,” warning of violence at other New York City landmarks and tourist hot spots, including a plot against Times Square and another to kill police officers on the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Daily Beast reported that Smith’s mother, Debra Smith Youngson, had published anti-Islamic posts on her Facebook page. She told The Daily Beast, “I love my country,” and had just found out about her son’s arrest this morning. “I’m a mother who’s heartbroken,” she said. “I just can’t imagine what’s going on.”
Smith could face up to five years in prison for the fake threats.