- By Brandon Drenon
- BBC News
Police in New York have arrested a Cornell University student who is accused of posting violent threats to Jewish classmates over the weekend.
In a series of posts to a website called Greekrank, a user with the name “hamas” threatened to shoot Jewish students at the prestigious university.
Patrick Dai, 21, is in his third year at the university.
Police say he made threats to bring a gun to campus and rape Jewish women and “behead any Jewish babies”.
Mr Dai has been charged by the FBI with posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications.
The crime is punishable by up to five years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in court in Syracuse on Wednesday.
Officials say he posted that he planned to attack a university building that housed a kosher cafeteria and is next to the Cornell Jewish Center.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she was “committed to combatting hate and bias wherever it rears its ugly head”.
The Cornell Daily Sun, the college newspaper, first reported on a series of antisemitic comments left on the website Greekrank.
The platform, which is not affiliated with the university but is used by many of its students, covers fraternity and sorority life on several campuses.
One post from the commenter named “hamas” was titled “if i see another jew”.
The post used slurs to refer to Jewish people and threatened violence, stalking and rape against Jewish men, women and babies.
The user threatened to bring a gun to campus to kill Jewish people.
In a statement, Cornell University said: “We remain shocked by and condemn these horrific, antisemitic threats and believe they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The university said that police will maintain a heightened security presence on campus in the coming days.
Molly Goldstein, co-president of the Cornell Center for Jewish Living, told CNN: “Jewish students on campus right now are unbelievably terrified for their lives.
“I never would have expected this to happen on my university campus.”
The threats against Cornell’s Jewish community arrive amid reports of rising antisemitic incidents around the country.
Speaking to a congressional committee on Tuesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers that antisemitic abuse was reaching “historic levels” in the US.
“Our statistics would indicate that for a group that represents only about 2.4% of the American public, they account for something like 60% of all religious-based hate crimes,” Mr Wray said of Jewish Americans, noting that the figure had probably risen since the Israel-Gaza conflict erupted on 7 October.
On Monday, the Biden administration announced that it was working to combat antisemitism and other hate speech on campuses by increasing communications with local, state and federal authorities.
Responding to a surge in hate crimes, Ms Hochul, who visited Cornell early this week, said $50m (£41m) will be made available for police to help prevent and solve such crimes, as well as $25m in security funding for at-risk community groups and cultural centres.
“Let me be clear: we cannot allow hate and intimidation to become normalised,” Ms Hochul said on Tuesday.
The Israel-Gaza conflict has increased tensions among students on US campuses.