Former Cornell University student pleads guilty to making threats against Jews

By Thomson Reuters Apr 10, 2024 | 4:36 PM

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A former Cornell University student has pleaded guilty to posting online threats, including of death and violence, against Jewish students on campus, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

Patrick Dai, 21, was charged late last year for making online threats against Jewish students at the Ivy League school in Ithaca, New York.

U.S. government officials and civil society advocates have warned about rising threats against American Jews, Muslims and Arabs since the eruption of the Israel-Gaza war on Oct. 7.

As part of his guilty plea, Dai admitted that on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29, he threatened to bomb, stab and rape Jews on the Cornell section of an online discussion forum.

The Justice Department said Dai’s threats “caused widespread panic and fear” in Cornell’s Jewish community.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 12. Dai faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, restitution to victims and a maximum of three years of supervised release, according to the Justice Department. A contact for Dai could not immediately be reached.

U.S. President Joe Biden has condemned rising antisemitism and Islamophobia since Oct. 7, when Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel killing 1,200, according to Israeli tallies, and sparking Israel’s offensive in Hamas-governed Gaza that has killed more than 33,000, according to the Gaza health ministry.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot)