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Nevada man charged with threatening U.S. senator in antisemitic messages

Antisemitic incidents on the rise, ADL finds
Antisemitic incidents on the rise in weeks after Israel-Hamas war, Anti-Defamation League says 01:58

Washington — A Nevada man was arrested and charged with leaving threatening and antisemitic messages on the office voicemail of a U.S. senator and traveling to a federal courthouse in Las Vegas where the senator has an office, according to court records unsealed Monday.

Charging documents alleged that John Anthony Miller, a 43-year-old Las Vegas resident, left numerous menacing voicemails for an unnamed senator between Oct. 17 and Oct. 19, in which he is accused of calling the senator "vermin" and threatening to "finish what Hitler started."

Although court documents did not identify the targeted lawmaker, a spokesperson for Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, who is Jewish, confirmed the messages were left with her office.

"Threats against public officials should be taken seriously. Senator Rosen trusts the U.S. Attorney's office and federal law enforcement to handle this matter," the spokesperson said in a statement.

In a message left on Oct. 17, Miller allegedly said: "You done picked your side b**** and you done chose evil. I don't give a f*** if you were born into it or not, b****, you are f****** evil, b**** and we're gonna exterminate you, f***."

Two days later, on Oct. 19, Miller allegedly called from the same number and left another voicemail: "Senator, I'm sorry to say, but ya know what, you're a piece of s*** and you're gonna burn in f****** hell for your f***ing crimes," he is accused of saying, among other things.

He is charged with one count of threatening a federal official. 

In a subsequent message left the following week, prosecutors alleged a caller from an unknown number whose voice matched Miller's left another voicemail in which he said the senator's family was in danger.

Prosecutors said Miller also allegedly visited the federal courthouse in Las Vegas, where Rosen has an office, on Oct. 18. After being turned away by security, he started yelling about "kill[ing] every last Israeli terror-f******-rist," according to the newly unsealed documents.

Court records indicate Miller made his initial appearance last week and is being held in pretrial detention. His attorney, public defender Benjamin Nemec, declined to comment on the charge when contacted by CBS News.

A rise in antisemitic threats

The charge against Miller comes as federal law enforcement officials and watchdog groups have warned of increased threats across the U.S. in the wake of Hamas' attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, and Israel's subsequent strikes against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

More than 300 antisemitic incidents occurred between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23, up from 64 in the same time period last year, according to a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that tracks such threats. The spike included a 388% increase in incidents of harassment, vandalism and/or assault compared to that same time period in 2022.

"We are seeing an increase in reported threats against faith communities, particularly Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities and institutions," Attorney General Merrick Garland told a group of law enforcement officials in Florida earlier this month. "The entire Justice Department remains vigilant in our efforts to identify and respond to hate crimes, threats of violence or related incidents, with particular attention to threats to faith communities." 

In recent days, threats were levied against students in Cornell University's Jewish community on a message board unaffiliated with the school that depicted graphic threats of murder, sexual violence and comparisons to animals, according to investigators. Cornell's president called the posts "horrendous." 

In a statement, the FBI said it was aware of the threats and is "working closely with Cornell and our law enforcement partners at every level to determine the credibility, share information, and take appropriate investigative action."

Federal prosecutors have also opened a civil rights investigation into the killing of a 6-year-old Palestinian boy who, along with his mother, was allegedly stabbed by his landlord. The two victims — Wadea Al Fayoume, who was stabbed 26 times, and his mother, who recovered from her injuries — were targeted because they were Muslim, according to the Will County Sheriff's Office. 

According to a White House official, since the attacks in Israel, the White House has worked to address the rise of antisemitic attacks at schools and colleges, including by working with the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to disseminate public safety information to campus police departments. The Justice Department is also working with Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities on college campuses, the official said. 

"We must, without equivocation, denounce antisemitism. We must also, without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia," President Biden said in an Oval Office address on Oct. 19. 

Andres Triay and Michael Kaplan contributed reporting.

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