Bwog uncovered the backstory to the November 7 campus bomb threats, leading to a tiny corner of the internet full of hackers, Twitter feuds, and false alarm bomb threats across the country.
Editor’s Warning: This post mentions sexual harassment, pedophilia, and ableist slurs. Any Twitter handles that do not pertain to the main subjects of the story have been censored to protect their identities.
On November 7 at 2:30 pm, the Columbia University campus was forced to evacuate due to sudden bomb threat reports on College Walk, Carman Hall, Butler Hall, and Lerner Hall. The 3-hour mandatory evacuation occurred after a suspicious tweet from user @JiaNakamura claimed that they placed several explosives in each of these locations. The NYPD came to the scene and asked all Columbia affiliates to stay away from the campus until further notice. After a thorough investigation, the NYPD deemed the bomb threats “not credible,” and students were able to reoccupy campus buildings by 5 pm. Meanwhile, scared students were circulating the tweet, speculating it was the cause of the evacuation. By then, Twitter had suspended the @JiaNakamura Twitter account, leaving behind more confusion. The end of the threat came rather quickly, leaving many wondering how this could have happened, who was behind this bomb threat, and whether it was connected to the threats on Yale’s, Brown’s, and Cornell’s campuses.
After further investigation, Bwog discovered that the recent bomb threat on campus does not have anything to do with Columbia University at all: it is only the aftermath of an online feud between Jia Nakamura, an NSFW gaming streamer with a small yet dedicated fanbase, and “Ryan Cleary,” a fan who Nakamura has accused of endlessly harassing her. It was Cleary who assisted in the orchestration of the bomb threats on several university campuses across the United States, including Columbia, to get her attention.
So, how exactly did this fight over the Internet end up in an evacuation of campus on November 7?
The Major Players
Jia Nakamura, known as @jiadagod on Twitter, is a 17 year-old NSFW influencer who has cultivated her image around gaming and the anime e-girl aesthetic. According to her Twitter profile around the time of the serial bomb threats, Nakamura had about 1370 followers and created her account in May 2020, making her online presence relatively new. Her Twitter account was suspended on November 8 due to a violation of the social media’s guidelines, thus deleting most of her tweets, but Bwog has saved and recovered many of the original statements and screenshots she provided.
A week prior to the Columbia University bomb threat, Nakamura had been on the receiving end of several threats from Cleary and his friends, all claiming to be members of a group called the “Apophis Squad.” On the day of the Columbia threat, Nakamura’s account, @jiadagod, was tagged in a tweet by a burner account using her full name, @JiaNakamura, who claimed partnership with @jiadagod and implied that both parties were responsible for the Columbia bomb threat. Nakamura’s actual account, which is usually public, was private during the evacuation; thus, no one at the time could verify whether or not she was responsible for the @JiaNakamura account.
Later that day, Nakamura went public again, stating that she does not know the person behind the Columbia bomb threat aside from the fact that he was “in love” with her, and that he was making threats to several universities to get her attention. She distanced herself from all the colleges threatened on November 7, claiming that she lives in California and has nothing to do with any of the people threatening the Ivy League.
In both her public tweets and in a Twitter direct message (DM) conversation passed onto Bwog from an anonymous source, Nakamura emphasized that she has no idea why Cleary decided to implicate her in this crime. “I’m literally just some girl on the internet that this guy fell head over heels for and refuses to leave alone until I date him,” she clarified. “It all began with a DM on Instagram where I talked to him for a bit which led us to speaking on Discord and Snapchat.”
It is hard to ascertain the exact relationship between Nakamura and Cleary. Both admit to engaging in private conversations on several social media platforms (Instagram, Discord, and Snapchat), but they have very different understandings of the nature of their relationship. Nakamura maintains her position that nothing was going on between the two, and that she barely knew him. “I’m just a minecraft girl that this sicko fell in love with after 2 days of speaking LMAO,” she tweeted in a thread under her initial response to the Columbia bomb threat.
Ryan Cleary (who goes by @ryan.loooool on Instagram and @Cle40683796Ryan on Twitter) is the 19-year-old who used his association with the Apophis Squad to fabricate the bomb threats and get Nakamura’s attention, and he has a different story. On his Twitter account, Cleary poses as a 14-year-old victim of Nakamura’s grooming, even though another Twitter user, who will remain anonymous, posted screenshots of Instagram DMs where Cleary admits to being 19 years old. Cleary claims that he and Nakamura dated, arguing that their relationship was much more than just “talking.” Cleary claims that Nakamura performed sexual acts in front of him repeatedly and asked him for suggestive photos of himself. He and his friends, who refer to themselves as the “Apophis Squad,” continued to send bomb threats to several universities because Nakamura refused to talk to Cleary and “resolve” whatever conflict they seemingly had.
According to Nakamura, “Ryan Cleary” is just an alias; she states that Cleary’s real name is Ray Charles Green III, and that he lives in Virginia. This ‘Cleary’ alias shares the name with a hacker and convicted criminal who launched a series of attacks on many international organizations, including the CIA and the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2011. Despite similarities, the two appear to be different people. For simplicity’s sake, Ray Charles Green III will still be referred to as “Ryan Cleary,” as that is the name that appears in all the evidence provided.
The Apophis Squad
Another relevant part of the story between Cleary, his friends, and Nakamura is the Apophis Squad. In one of the November 5 emails to Nakamura, which was then published on Nakamura’s Twitter, an unknown sender emailed her a message with multiple links to news articles reporting on the Yale Bomb threats, telling Nakamura she was going to be pursued by the FBI if she did not “fold” and DM Cleary. The subject of the email was “#APOPHISSQUAD,” implying that the group was behind the Yale bomb threats. Furthermore, the Apophis Squad has publicly taken credit for the bomb threat on Columbia’s campus, replying to Spectator’s alert under a burner account (@H4CKDAPLANET), “we (APOPHIS SQUAD) take credit for these threat[s].” The account continues to make threats to Nakamura and publicly flaunts the fact that it was behind the @JiaNakamura burner account.
This association between Cleary’s friends and the Apophis Squad is certainly not light. The online hacking group—whose name alludes to the Ancient Egyptian god of chaos, Apophis, the arch nemesis of Ra and embodiment of all malevolent forces—is best known for being at the center of a 2018 criminal investigation beginning in the United Kingdom, where the group was discovered to have sent over 1700 false bomb threats to schools, colleges, and nurseries across the country. The “hacker collective” also committed numerous crimes in the United States, attempting to extort over $20,000 in cryptocurrency from a California business, threatening 80 school districts with gun violence and bombings, and even fake-hijacking a plane ride to San Francisco.
The U.S.-based leader of the group, Timothy Vaughn, was arrested in 2018 for assisting in the San Francisco fake-hijacking incident, and he later pleaded guilty to his actions as leader of the criminal Apophis Squad and additional charges of possessing child pornography. Vaughn began his 8-year sentence in 2019.
The person responsible for the U.K. bomb threats, however, requires special attention. According to a 2018 BBC article, British investigators traced back thousands of empty bomb threats and the plane hijacking scare to the home of a 19-year-old hacker by the name of George Duke-Cohen. Cohen was linked to the Apophis Squad and pleaded guilty to the accusations of mass bomb threats, and he served a three-year sentence beginning in 2018. According to the article, even after he was arrested, Cohen continued releasing hoax threats in both the United States and the United Kingdom. According to his parents, George Duke-Cohen joined the Apophis Squad when he was 17-years-old.
Cleary claims that “George” is the same person who was responsible for the cyber attacks in 2018 and places the responsibility of the current false bomb threats on him. For instance, in tweets from Cleary’s new account—where he claims to be 14-years-old and a victim of manipulation, pedophilia, and harassment from a 17-year-old Nakamura—he mentions “George,” stating, “…it should be known that George did any of this [sic] due to you grooming me.” Furthermore, on his account posing as a 14-year-old, Cleary tweeted in response to a previous question about whether the George who launched the fake bomb threats on Columbia’s campus was connected to George Duke-Cohen, “Jia stop being weird no one is lying about George being out of prison he has literally been out all year.”
It should be noted that Cleary, under @Cle40683796Ryan, has now backtracked on his association with the Apophis Squad, stating, “…[Nakamura] has played it off as if I am a member of ‘Apophis Squad’ even after I have stated I simply know George and have no affiliation.” This claim, however, does not deny that Cleary, whether or not he is actually a part of the Apophis Squad, sought out one of the members and used their help to get Nakamura’s attention.
Ultimately, “why Columbia?” is simple: It just happened to be on the list of universities the Apophis Squad decided to threaten.
According to another November 5 email sent to Nakamura from an anonymous user, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and the University of Texas were all listed as potential victims of the hollow bomb threats. The person who sent the email demanded Nakamura to either “fold” and DM Cleary on Instagram, or the conflict between the Internet personality and her stalker’s friend group will not end, and one of the universities mentioned will be “first.” The email does not explain what “being first” entails.
However, if these emails occurred around the same time as Nakamura’s Instagram DM exchanges with Cleary, then there is strong evidence to suggest that none of the schools mentioned were the first to receive threats. In fact, on November 4 at around 9:30 pm, Cleveland State University was forced to evacuate due to a similar bomb threat, corroborating with Cleary’s message to Nakamura, where he claims George “hacked” into a person’s university system and sent a “cool email” to Cleveland State, implying that George had yet again sent a false threat to a university. A screenshot of the email was posted onto Nakamura’s Twitter account, but the evidence was unfortunately lost after the account had been deactivated. According to The Cauldron, CSU’s school newspaper, someone had called the CSU police earlier that evening claiming the presence of bombs in the law school and law library. Similar to the incident on Columbia’s campus, the police had cleared the emergency and deemed no real threats on Cleveland State’s campus.
Ohio University and Miami University also received bomb threats over the weekend, and like the cases of CSU and the Ivy League, these threats followed the same pattern: the University was notified of a bomb threat, campus was evacuated for a police investigation, no bombs were found, and students were soon allowed back on campus. The Ohio University Police then concluded that this threat was connected to the other ones happening around the country.
However, according to a November 1 reply from Twitter user @CarterM27238498 to one of Nakamura’s Tweets, dating back the wave of bomb threats from this specific group an entire week earlier, this account demanded that Nakamura DM him in three hours or less, or he will be “sending a bomb threat to every school in California through SMTP w ur info.” At around midnight on November 2, the same user tagged Nakamura in a tweet that contained a screenshot of a “THREAT TO LAS ANGELES COUNTY” and the caption, “@jiadagod lol.” Neither the specific campus nor any details about who the email was addressed to were included in his screenshot. He then tweeted the same image with a new caption, “@jiadagod G The IRL harassment can go on until you listen mums life.” The same person who revealed that Cleary is actually 19-years-old claims that Cleary is behind the “Carter Morgan” Twitter threats but does not provide substantial evidence to confirm. The false threats on California schools on November 2 could not be verified.
The Columbia University campus was not specifically targeted by the Apophis Squad, nor does the hacker collective actually intend to harm university campuses. Instead, our school unfortunately became the site of an ongoing feud over the Internet between a stalker and member of the hacker collective, his hacker friends, and the NSFW gaming streamer he became obsessed with. Columbia has no seemingly real relation with any member of this group; it is just one of many universities that were affected in this attempt to get an influencer’s attention.
The @JiaNakamura account and tweets were, instead of a threat to Columbia, a threat to Nakamura, tying her name to the crime of fabricating bomb threats and a potential shooting. The threat on Columbia University is unique, as it is the only one from the past week that was notified via Twitter, yet the use of the social media account was only to ruin Nakamura’s online reputation and associate her with an illegal hacker collective.
Twitter graphic via Pixabay