(The Hill) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) says a Florida man has been arrested and charged with calling the World Jewish Congress and threatening to kill Jewish people, part of a recent spike in antisemitic incidents.
In a news release on Thursday, federal authorities said Deep Alpesh Kumar Patel, of Sarasota, was charged with transmitting an interstate threat to injure.
According to the criminal compliant, Patel allegedly called the World Jewish Congress headquarters in New York City on October 21 and left a threatening voicemail message.
“If I had a chance, I would kill every single one of you Israelis,” he allegedly said, also identifying himself by name. “Every single one of you! Cause mass genocide of every single Israeli.”
When authorities arrived at his residence, Patel confirmed that he called the organization but denied making any threats towards them.
“When the officers asked Patel to describe the content of the telephone calls, he explained that he had called Jewish centers to express his family’s anger with Israel for the genocide of the Palestinian people. Patel stated that he did not intend to scare or threaten anyone, but that he wanted to use the harshest language possible to convey his anger,” the complaint said.
The news comes amid the ongoing war between Israel and militant group Hamas.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing Tuesday that the U.S. is seeing historic levels of antisemitism. He noted how the war added to the threat level for Jewish people, which has spiked in recent years.
If convicted, Patel, 21, could face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison, the DOJ said.