Man Pleads Guilty to Hoax Threat to Bomb Statue of Liberty

This Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015 photo provided by the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office shows Jason Paul Smith, who said in a 911 call he was Abdul Yasin, was arrested in Lubbock, Texas, where he's charged with conveying false and misleading information and hoaxes, authorities said. Smith identified himself as a …
Lubbock County Sheriff's Office via AP

On Monday, Jason Paul Smith, 42, pled guilty in federal court to one count of conveying false and misleading information and hoaxes, in connection with a 911 call he made in April 2015 claiming to be an ISIS terrorist bent on bombing the Statue of Liberty.

According to court documents, Smith made his hoax call from an iPad, using a service that helps hearing-impaired people place telephone calls. The New York Daily News notes that Smith really is hearing-impaired and used a sign-language interpreter during his court hearing.

In the call, he claimed he was an ISIS terrorist named “Abdul Yasin,” and told the 911 operators his group was about to “blow up” the Statue of Liberty. As the Associated Press observes, Abdul Yasin is the name of the only conspirator not yet arrested for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Smith’s hoax call brought out law enforcement teams and first responders, who swept the Liberty Island area and ultimately decided it was best to evacuate the over 3,200 people who were on the island.

This apparently was not Smith’s only hoax as the Justice Department reports that his iPad and the hearing-impaired service were used to make other 911 calls, “including at least two calls in May 2015 from a user who identified himself as ‘Isis allah Bomb maker’ and who threatened to attack Times Square and kill police officers at the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Smith is from Harts, West Virginia, and was arrested in Lubbock, Texas, in August 2015. He evidently arrived in Lubbock sometime in June of that year, judging by his Facebook postings.

Not much information about Smith’s motivations has been made public. The New York Post reports that he told Judge Vernon Broderick he is “currently being treated for mental illness.”

According to the Post, he won’t spend much time in jail: “As part of his plea deal, Manhattan federal prosecutors said they have agreed to recommend Smith be sentenced to time served followed by three years’ probation. Smith spent roughly three weeks in lockup following his arrest in August.”