Monday, May 04, 2015

04-May-15: At a Jerusalem tram stop today, a man with a knife and murder on his mind is the sole casualty

Security at the French Hill tram stop [Image Source]
Once more, a miracle in broad daylight. A Jerusalem Arab has given physical expression to his political (and perhaps religious) viewpoint by means of a knife and a brief visit to a tram-stop in the nation's capital on a bright sunny day. Thankfully, alert security personnel stopped him cold.

This comes from a Times of Israel report:
A Palestinian man tried to stab a security guard at a light rail train stop in Jerusalem on Monday, but was stopped by security personnel who shot and subdued him. The attacker, whom police identified as a 35-year-old Palestinian from the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem, was lightly wounded, Israel Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement. A security guard told police the Palestinian had “attacked him from behind” before running toward people waiting at the station, Samri said. Several other security guards then opened fire at his legs before overpowering him. He was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital in the Ein Kerem neighborhood. There were no injuries to any of the passengers or the guards, and light rail services resumed shortly afterward. The area, near Jerusalem’s northeastern French Hill neighborhood, has seen numerous attacks on Israelis in recent months. ["Security guards thwart attempted stabbing in Jerusalem", Times of Israel, today]
There's a brief video clip about the attack on the Israel National News (via YouTube) here. And for readers interested in putting today's attempted murder into an appropriate context, here are some of our posts from the past few weeks:
Chances are that unless you live in the same country that we do, some or all of these reports will never have reached the mainstream media in your community. That means the debate over terrorism, its victims and what ought to be done with and to the perpetrators will probably make very little sense to the people living near you. That includes the trivial detail that today's attacker is now somewhere inside the best hospital within a thousand kilometers, getting the very best of medical care from people who will probably ride home when their shift ends via the same Jerusalem Light Rail that tantalizes the feverish passions of tomorrow's knife man, and next week's.

What motivates a person to try to carry out an act of murder among his or her neighbours, by trying to stab them to death, preferably from behind? Surprisingly, that's not a rhetorical question. It has an actual answer. And it's here: "28-Dec-14: You there with the knife. What are you waiting for?"

Sunday, May 03, 2015

03-May-15: In Paris, you need to work hard to forget the victims but where there's a will, there's a way

Ilan Halimi, murdered in Paris in 2006
We mentioned Ilan Halimi in a post just last night - here: "02-May-15: On a Paris street with some history, a mob of 40 'activists' attacks a pair of young Jews".

His death, by exceptional cruelty and against a background of rampant Islamist terror in the heart of France's greatest city, had an impact on many people, just as the murders in January of other French people - some of them cartoonists, some of them just ordinary Jews - did. Nidra Poller's February 2006 article in the Wall Street Journal of his kidnapping, torture and death makes for hard reading.

We observed last night, in the wake of a thuggish attack by a racist mob of 40 'activists' (we're being deeply cynical when we use the word) on two young Jews, that the writing has been on France's walls for some time. But it's questionable whether anyone is actually reading it.

So on the subjects of France and hatred and killings and racism and the writing on the walls. there's a development worth reporting today.

It comes from a French language news report published online here. Courtesy of Google Translate, here's the English version:
The plaque in memory of Ilan Halimi found broken in Bagneux | 03.05.2015 at 11h56 | Plaque in memory of Ilan Halimi, a young French Jew killed by the gang of barbarians in 2006, was found broken in Bagneux, city of his ordeal. It would be an act of vandalism. "This is unacceptable." The mayor of Bagneux, in Hauts-de-Seine, does not hide his anger after the plaque in memory of Ilan Halimi was found broken Saturday. This young French Jewish had been tortured and killed by the gang of barbarians in 2006. Informed Saturday around 18 hours by email from a resident, the mayor made immediately remove plaque, placed at the foot of a young oak in the Richelieu Park, in the center of the city, after a commemoration ceremony in 2011. " It will be changed as soon as possible on Monday. We are the police of Bagneux to complain, "said the mayor. "For our city, it is a very strong symbol," says Marie-Hélène Amiable, which "strongly think vandalism". Very conservative, the elected does not exclude "the fall of a branch or a balloon," as the police will not do the full light on the facts. Nicolas Sarkozy, he did not wait to react. On his Twitter account he expressed his "dismay" and calls for "intransigence face of such acts." Same reaction on the side of Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. For the first secretary of the PS, you have to "redouble their determination in the face of anti-Semitism."
The memorial before it was destroyed [Image Source]
Ilan Halimi was found naked, gagged and handcuffed near a railway track in the Essonne after being kidnapped and tortured for three weeks in Bagneux by the "gang of barbarians" whose chief, Youssouf Fofana , was since condemned to life imprisonment.
The French article makes no mention of how two young Jews were terrorized yesterday by a baying mob on the same street from which Ilan Halimi was abducted nine years earlier, and on which (as we wrote last night) politicians from all over the world marched this past January to express abhorrence of racism, anti-semitism and terror.

Forgetting sometimes takes more effort than remembering.

03-May-15: Israel sees concrete signs of a terror threat in Tunisia while the government there says it's actually nothing

These Jewish visitors to Tunisia feature prominently in the Iranian
media report today (see below) that makes fun of Israel's warning about
a terrorist danger while actually confirming just how real the danger is
[Image Source: Iran's PressTV]
There are reports in today's news about Israeli warnings to travelers about the coming days, which include the joyous festival of Lag B'Omer, and focus on Tunisia in particular.

Just why this is, and why the reports are so little understood by parts of the foreign news media, are matters worth exploring. So is the somewhat bizarre way the Iranians, up to their eyebrows in supporting and funding terror against Jews, Israelis and a host of others around the world, deny the danger while confirming (wittingly or unintentionally) how real it is.

First, who issued the warning? Israel's National Security Council. It's part of the Prime Minister's Office, a government department located in Jerusalem on the same street as the Foreign Ministry with a comprehensive Hebrew website (here) and an English-language on-line presence (here) that is comically bad: hopelessly out-dated, expressed in fractured English, and containing virtually nothing useful.

The NSC is widely quoted in the news though the scope of its authority has been called "vague". The Prime Minister [according to Wikipedia]
is not obligated to accept its recommendations, unlike with those of the Attorney General, for example.
One of its three wings is called the Counter-Terrorism Bureau (the other two deal with security policy and with foreign policy). The CTB is said to have its headquarters inside the NSC center in Ramat Hasharon, in Tel Aviv's northern suburbs.

The CTB is making small headlines today, having issued a travel alert last night (Saturday night) warning Israelis to give Tunisia a miss
following "updated information" on terror plots, with an emphasis on the Lag Baomer holiday which takes place on Thursday. Tunisian Jews, and other Jews visiting the North African country, traditionally celebrate the Hilula festival of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Lag Baomer. The Counter-Terrorism Bureau said a Level 2 alert, meaning a concrete and high threat is in place, has been issued for the country, adding, "The recommendation is to avoid visiting Tunisia"... The Bureau issued a total of 27 travel alerts, in addition to six enemy states that Israelis are banned by law from visiting, and eight regions that are subject to a variety of advisories... [A]head of Lag Ba’omer... it named Tunisia as a country that could see additional attacks. [Jerusalem Post, today]
How surprising is that? Not very. Just six weeks ago, we reported here ["19-Mar-15: In Tunisia, terrorists target tourists... again"] on a
murderous attack by terrorists in broad daylight yesterday (Wednesday) [that] left at least 19 people killed on the streets of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia... The president of Tunisia says his country will now fight terrorism "without mercy", according to the BBC. 
We also took the opportunity to note how Tunisia's own government spokespeople, starting with its newly-elected prime minister Habib Essid, urged "national unity", calling the massacre "the first operation of its kind ever to occur in Tunisia". That sounded wrong to us:
The first? That's true only if we ignore (and ignore is exactly what most parts of the news media are doing) the April 11, 2002 Djerba synagogue bombing in which terrorists operating on behalf of Al Qaeda deployed a human bomb and a truck full of explosives to attack people, most of them tourists, visiting a historically-significant (and exceptionally beautiful) Tunisian synagogue. The death toll was heavy: 14 German tourists, 3 Tunisians, 2 French. [Source]
The Israeli government's travel advisory issued last night that
focuses on the dangers of visiting Tunisia specifically [Online here]
As we said, that was six weeks ago.

Today, in the wake of the Israeli travel advisory, the government in Tunis is back in insistent denial mode:
The Tunisian government on Saturday shrugged off a warning from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel had learned of "concrete threats" of terror attacks against Jewish or Israeli targets in the Arab country. "Information indicates that there are plans for terrorist attacks against Israelis or Jews in Tunisia," a statement from Netanyahu's office said, urging Jews not to visit Tunisia during the Lag BaOmer Jewish festival, which will be celebrated on May 7. A senior official in the Tunisian interior ministry told Agence France-Presse that no such threats existed. "We have nothing on that. There are no threats," the unnamed official said. Thousands of pilgrims visit the tombs of famous rabbis for Lag BaOmer, including on Tunisia's holiday island of Djerba, where one of the last Jewish communities in the Arab world still lives. Several thousand Jews from France and Israel make the trip to the island every year, where 19 people died in an attack on the ancient El Ghriba synagogue in 2002 blamed on Al-Qaeda. Tunisia has been trying to reassure foreign visitors they will be safe since 21 tourists were killed in a jihadist attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis in March. ["Tunisia rebuffs Netanyahu’s terror warning" | Al-Arabiya, today]
The joy of Lag B'Omer in the ancient Tunisian synagogue, Djerba 1960
[Image Source: The invaluable Israel Picture a Day website]
An AFP report today, referring to the synagogue on Djerba that has attracted Jewish tourists to Tunisia for generations, adds:
The Tunisian interior ministry official insisted the police and army were ready to ensure security. "All measures have been taken... to ensure the success of the pilgrimage to El Ghriba," the official said.
Now for anyone thinking Israel's approach seems contrived or excessively cautious, let's compare it with what the British government says in its online travel advisory for Tunisia this morning:
There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. A terrorist attack took place at the Bardo Museum in the centre of Tunis on 18 March. Twenty-one tourists were killed, including a British national. Tunisian security forces continue to carry out counter terrorist operations following this incident. Terrorists continue to threaten attacks in Tunisia and the Ministry of Interior has previously warned of threats to industrial and tourist sites. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should be especially vigilant at this time and follow the advice of Tunisian security authorities and your tour operator. Terrorist attacks have increased in Tunisia since 2013. In October 2013, there were failed attacks at a hotel in Sousse and the Bourguiba Museum in Monastir. Since then, members of the Tunisian security forces have been targeted in terrorist-related incidents at various locations, mainly near border areas including in the Chaambi Mountains. There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time. Keep up to date with this travel advice, and follow the advice of the local authorities and your tour operator. [UK Travel Advisory | Tunisia | Updated to May 3, 2015]
Now for the Iranian view via a PressTV report from this morning:
In an apparent publicity campaign to portray Jews as victimized, the Israeli regime said earlier in the day that there were “concrete threats” of attacks against “Jewish and Israeli targets” in Tunisia. The office of Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a Saturday statement, "Information indicates that there are plans for terrorist attacks against Israelis or Jews in Tunisia." The statement further claimed that the threats are connected to the Lag BaOmer Jewish festival in the country, urging “Jews” not to travel to Tunisia for the May 6 event... Meanwhile, the Israeli regime has issued a number of false claims of potential terror attacks against Israeli or Jewish targets around the globe aimed at showing that Jewish communities are under persisting and increased threats in order to encourage Jews to immigrate to occupied Palestinian territories... The people of Tunisia, the birthplace of pro-democracy protests across North Africa and the Middle East, revolted against the Western-backed dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. Despite the recent political stability, insurgency and terrorist activities still threaten the North African country. [Iran's PressTV today]
Clear now?

Let's hope (and pray) the Tunisians are right and that there are "no threats". And let's also hope that when they say "We have nothing on that", they actually mean
"We checked, we professionally reviewed all our sources, we set politics aside, we phoned the Israelis and asked them to tell us what they know about terrorism here in Tunisia and having given it our very best shot, we have concluded - as if lives depended on it - that the Israeli concern amounts to nothing."
For anyone interested in what the Israeli government actually said about Tunisia last night, it's online at this Hebrew-only page. Here's our unofficial translation:
Tunisia | High-level concrete threat | It emerges on the basis of updated information that there is an intention to carry out terror attacks (piguim) against Israeli and Jewish targets in Tunisia, with an emphasis on the Lag B'Omer events and those attending them. The Counter Terrorism Bureau recommends to refrain from visiting, and to leave the state (Tunisia) as quickly as possible.
The CTB clarifies that the foregoing travel advisory is a recommendation only and the decision to visit or stay in any place outside Israel is a matter for the personal discretion of every individual, and his/her exclusive responsibility, taking into account the significance of the travel advisory, other dangers apart from the dangers of terror, and awareness of the requirements of Israeli law.
And for the record, we don't plan to include Tunisia in any upcoming travel.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

02-May-15: On a Paris street with some history, a mob of 40 'activists' attacks a pair of young Jews

Boulevard Voltaire, Paris, January 10, 2015: Four months
before Friday's racist attack on two Jews, international leaders march
in solidarity with victims of Islamist acts of murder in Paris.
Lessons plainly not yet learned [Image Source]
Ilan Halimi is the name of a French Jew who, at the age of 23 in 2006 was kidnapped on a Parisian street, then held hostage ("The Barbarians Affair") at a house in the Bagneux neighbourhood and horribly tortured for three full weeks while ransom demands were made on his parents. He was eventually released in shocking condition ("more than 80% of his body had been burned with acid, as well as gasoline") and rushed to hospital but died before getting there.

The street on which Ilan Halimi was abducted is Boulevard Voltaire, in Paris' 11 arrondissement. A French news report [here] says two young Jews were assaulted there yesterday (Friday) afternoon around 2:30 pm and injured. The attackers were... a mob of 40 people.

It's the same street that played a central role in the events described in this report from less than four months ago:
An extraordinary chain of 1.5 million people, led by a group of world leaders linking arms, marched down the Boulevard Voltaire in a show of force Sunday meant to illustrate the power of unity and freedom of expression over the sting of fanaticism and terror. After a barrage of violence that traumatized the nation and left 17 victims dead, the boulevards of Paris produced a striking counterimage: French President François Hollande, arm in arm with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and flanked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and a host of European and African leaders. An estimated 4 million people nationwide — more than a third of them in Paris — mobilized [etc] ..."Paris is the capital of the world today," Hollande said. ["Massive crowds join march for solidarity in Paris" | Washington Post, January 11, 2015]
According to a French group that monitors anti-semitic attacks in France, Friday's attack mob was made up of individuals belonging to the Israel-hating BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) campaign and a second group called Gaza Firm. Police are investigating.

The writing has long been on France's walls. The question is who is reading.

Friday, May 01, 2015

01-May-15: Turkish mayor's rudeness provokes US ambassador to change hair color but the background is far uglier

Ankara's mayor, Melih Gökçek
Funny-strange more than funny-ha-ha, and a conspiracist
to boot
Reports are circulating in the media today about the long-time mayor of Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and the juvenile rudeness he has just directed against Obama administration officials in Washington. The Guardian reports it this way today:
The mayor of Turkey’s capital city has been accused of hypocrisy after tweeting a string of sexist and anti-American comments against a US official – but launching hundreds of lawsuits against people who use Twitter to criticise him. Melih Gökçek directed his remarks at Marie Harf, the acting spokeswoman for the US State Department, after a Turkish pro-government newspaper criticised her for being “silent” on unrest in Baltimore despite repeated US government criticism of Turkey during the violent crackdown on Gezi Park protestors in the summer of 2013. One of Gökçek’s tweets included pictures of Baltimore police tackling a protester, alongside an image of Harf, above the words: “Where are you stupid blonde, who accused Turkish police of using disproportionate force?” Above the image, Gökçek wrote: “Come on blonde, answer now!”
The Guardian's editors go on to recite some of the history of this "notoriously Ankara mayor". It also notes that he's a hypocrite and something of a coward who
"regularly lashes out at his opponents on Twitter [but] is less happy to be the subject of online criticism... Mayor of Ankara since 1994 and a veteran member of the ruling Justice and Development party (AK), Gökçek is one of the most polarising figures in Turkish politics."
US ambassador Bass and today's Instagram image
[Image Source]
An AFP report this afternoon ["US envoy hits back at Ankara mayor: ‘We’re all blonde’"] makes some similar points while reporting on a novel kind of push-back from the US ambassador to Turkey:
The US ambassador to Turkey on Friday hit back at sexist remarks by Ankara’s maverick mayor to the US State Department spokeswoman in unusual style, posting a picture of himself with blond hair. Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek, a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had on Wednesday fired off an extraordinary diatribe on Twitter over the Baltimore rioting, telling the US State Department acting spokeswoman Marie Harf to “come on blonde, answer now.”...Harf herself had refused to rise to the bait of the comments, saying in Washington: “I really don’t think I’m going to dignify them with a response.” But US ambassador to Turkey John Bass took to Instagram to make his response, posting a picture of himself with his normally brown hair turned blond. “American diplomats: we’re all blonde,” he wrote in English and Turkish. [AFP, May 1, 2015]
Trouble is, both articles fail to point out that the Turkish politician, a close ally of Turkey's rather difficult president, is a lot worse than just a fat-mouthed crank. There's considerable malevolence in the man and his career, as we wrote some months ago ["14-Jan-15: A reminder that hateful conspiracy theories are not only found in dark corners"] in a post focusing on him. 

We quoted a news report from a serious Turkish source that eventually got almost zero news coverage, though it was tied to the tragic terror killings of French Jews in Paris this past January. Here it is again:
Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek has alleged that last week's deadly attacks on a French satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris that left 17 people dead are the result of France expressing support for Palestine, and that Israeli intelligence is behind the attacks, the semi-official Anadolu news agency reported... Gökçek attended the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Gölbaşı youth branch fourth ordinary district congress on Sunday and mentioned the terrorist attacks in France. He said Israel was annoyed with the lower house of French parliament for voting for the recognition of a Palestinian state and with France's vote in favor of a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for the same recognition. “Israel certainly doesn't want this sentiment to expand in Europe. That's why it is certain that Mossad is behind these kinds of incidents. Mossad enflames Islamophobia by causing such incidents,” Gökçek said. He claimed that after the Paris attacks, around 50 mosques and some Muslim individuals had been targeted but such incidents were not reported on by the international media. “Palestine being recognized as a state is why these [attacks] have taken place,” he concluded. [Today's Zaman, a major Turkish newspaper, January 12, 2015 - as quoted in our earlier blog post]
Half a year earlier, in July 2014 Gökçek supported the antisemitic tweet made by Turkish singer Yıldız Tilbe: "God bless Hitler, it was even too few what he did to the Jews, he was right" and "The Jews will be destroyed by Muslims, in the name of Allah, not much time left for it be done". [Source: Wikipedia]

When public figures, especially those in ambitious, aspirational states of the Middle East, take the lead in propagating anti-Jewish conspiracies against a background of murdered Jews. we don't have much of a sense of humour. 

We wish the news-reporting industry took a little more trouble in the profiles they publish of jackasses like Gökçek. He's not a mere buffoon, and taunting him with dyed hair is missing the point: this is a rabble-rousing antisemite whose dignified public office provides him with cover to sow the seeds of anti-Jewish sentiment - as if there were not enough already - in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

30-Apr-15: Militants, insurgents and activists: a global terror snapshot

There's more going on in this ongoing war waged by men and women with terror on their minds than most people realize. The reports, extracted below more or less at random, all arose in the past 24 hours.

German police examine what they found after the
arrests last night [Image Source]
German police prevent terror attack, paper reports | Deutsche Welle today
German police have detained a married couple suspected of planning a terrorist attack, according to a media report. Authorities found a pipe bomb and weapons, and one of the suspects allegedly had contact with al Qaeda. The two suspects, identified as Halil and Senay D, were arrested overnight in Oberursel near Frankfurt, Die Welt newspaper reported Thursday. While searching the suspects' apartment, police found a pipe bomb, explosives, a rifle and ammunition, as well as tools that can be used to detonate a bomb, the paper said on its webpage. The suspects had been put under police surveillance several weeks ago, after buying unusually large quantities of chemicals of the type which other terror groups in Germany had previously used to make explosives. The couple reportedly used false names during the transaction. Recently, Halil D. was observed surveying an area around Oberursel, near the path of a bicycle race scheduled for May 1. This prompted the police to arrest both him and his wife in order to avoid endangering participants and the audience, according to Die Welt. The investigators also believe that Halil is connected to the al Qaeda terror network and Islamist groups in Frankfurt, the newspaper reported. The police confirmed that the arrests have been made and that more places are being searched, but refused to comment on the background. A news conference is scheduled for later Thursday.
Islam, convicted yesterday [Image Source]
Teenager Kazi Islam found guilty of terror grooming | BBC yesterday
Kazi Islam was said to have used "flattery and threats" in exchanges on social media to try to persuade Harry Thomas to kill two soldiers and buy ingredients for a pipe bomb. Islam, 18, of Newham, east London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of preparing to commit acts of terrorism.
He claimed he was conducting research... The trial was told Islam befriended the then 19-year-old Mr Thomas in October 2013 - five months after Fusilier Rigby was attacked in the street near Woolwich Barracks - after meeting him the previous year on an IT course at college... Speaking to the BBC, Mr Thomas, who has learning difficulties, described Islam as a "very, very manipulative person" but said he had no intention of carrying out his requests. He said: "He makes out he's this really kind person because that's how he comes across at first but deep inside he's evil." Mr Thomas added: "He's not scared to go to prison, he told me that. And he says he'll end up in a better place for the crimes he's committed. He said his God will look after him and think he's done a really good thing." Commander Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "We continue to appeal to anyone who may have knowledge of people with similar intentions. The earliest we can intervene to prevent terrorism the better. We also remind the public that there is currently a need to protect vulnerable or impressionable adults or children from this brand of Islamic extremism." The plot was said to have been unwittingly sabotaged by Mr Thomas, who failed to buy any of the right ingredients for a bomb and revealed what was going on to "a few friends"... While the court heard he had also downloaded a document on explosives himself, Islam said his interest in extremism was "purely for research purposes and to understand the political side of my religion".
Third accused Melbourne terror teenager denied bail over weapons charges | Channel 9 News (Australia) today
Mehran Azami has appeared in Melbourne court after being accused of importing 200 weapons for an alleged Anzac Day terror plot. A third teen has been charged with terror offences relating to the alleged Anzac Day attack plot foiled by police in Melbourne earlier this month... He appeared at Melbourne Magistrates Court this afternoon accused of importing 200 weapons he had ordered online from China. Some of the weapons were intercepted by Australia Post and Customs, however other items are still in the community with authorities keen to retrieve them. Included in the list of outstanding weapons are AK47 tactical knives, batons, butterfly knives, trench knives, knuckle dusters and iPhone tasers... The judge refused bail and Azami will reappear in court in July. Police allege Azami was supplying the weapons to the two teens accused of plotting the Anzac Day attack in Melbourne,..
Anzac Day, Australia's national day of remembering the fallen of its wars, and marking the 100th anniversary of the catastrophic military assault on Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915, was marked this past Saturday, April 25. Two Melbourne men in their late teens were arrested a week before Anzac Day and charged with conspiracy to commit acts done in preparation for a terrorist attack that Australian news sources called "shockingly similar" to the 2013 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in south-east London [our post from then is here: "24-May-13: Allegedly slaughtering people on the streets of London, and what we know about it"]. Media reports (including the Melbourne Age) provided details that have not yet been put in front of the courts, including these:
  • The plot was part-payback for the death of a Moslem teenager Abdul Numan Haider, shot dead last September after stabbing two anti-terror police officers in Melbourne. For background, see our post: "24-Sep-14: More on the Islamist knifing attack on police in Melbourne".
  • Some of the young men arrested in the pre-dawn counter-terrorism raids on April 18, 2015 "were with Haider before he attacked two officers with a knife" and had "discussed opening fire at one or more Anzac Day events in south-east Melbourne suburbs, possibly at a local RSL march". RSL is Australia's major veteran's organization.
  • The plot also involved running down a police officer and killing him with a knife. Then taking the officer's gun and going on a "shooting rampage in an Islamic State-inspired attack... that would have ended in their deaths",
Now it appears there is a British co-conspirator, and he is just fourteen years old:

Anzac Day terror attack plot: UK police charge 14yo boy with inciting terrorism overseas | Australian Broadcasting Corp | April 24, 2015
British prosecutors have charged a 14-year-old boy with inciting an alleged plot to carry out a beheading and attack a parade in Australia on Anzac Day... Prosecutors referred to a "terrorism plot", saying that the boy had incited someone "to carry out an attack at an Anzac parade in Australia with the aim of killing and/or causing serious injury to people". "The second allegation is that on 18 March 2015, the defendant incited another person to behead someone in Australia," Ms Walsh said, adding that the prosecution would be in the "public interest"... The boy, from Blackburn in north-west England, is the youngest British person to be charged with terrorism offences. Police said he may be tried in an adult court because of the seriousness of the offences.
Sevdet Besim, 18, charged following the Anzac Day attack
raids. His father says it's a set-up [Image Source]
Anzac Day terror plot: accused Melbourne pair postpone bail bid | The Australian | Today
Two teenagers accused of plotting a terrorist attack on Anzac Day have postponed their bids for bail. Sevdet Besim and Harun Causevic, both 18, had been due to apply for bail in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today following their arrest on counterterror raids this month. Mr Besim is alleged to discussed the plot with a 14-year old British boy, who has been charged in the UK with two offences of inciting terrorism overseas.
Meanwhile the father of one of the accused terrorists, Vehid Causevic, has a comprehensive explanation:
"That is all a set-up," he said. [Source]
Six suspected militants charged over terror plot in Malaysia | PressTV Iran | Today
Malaysian security forces have charged six suspected militants for allegedly planning to carry out a series of terrorist attacks... According to court documents, the militants, aged between 25 and 48, were charged with being "party to a conspiracy to promote terror in Malaysia..." Police sources say the group was planning a series of attacks in the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, and in nearby Putrajaya, which houses Malaysia's federal government apparatus. The militants had been also planning to rob banks and raid police stations to obtain weapons... Malaysian authorities are worried that the ISIL terrorist group is gaining an increasing number of recruits and supporters in the country. The government has identified nearly 70 of its nationals who have joined ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and five who have been killed while participating in the group’s terrorist activities. Malaysian security sources say another 120 people, including men and women, with suspected links to the ISIL are being kept in custody. 
Sunderland man Mohammed Kahar in court over 10 terror offences | BBC | April 29, 2015
A man from Sunderland has appeared in court charged with terrorism offences, including one relating to Syria. Mohammed Kahar of Burnville Road, faces 10 charges, including disseminating terrorist publications, preparing a terrorist act and terrorist financing. Westminster Magistrates' Court heard he was allegedly caught with extremist material including a document called 44 Ways To Serve And Participate In Jihad. The 37-year-old was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 14 May. He did not enter any pleas.
Islamist Fighters Seize Southern Syria Crossing | Reuters | Today
The hardline Ahrar al-Sham group in Syria and other insurgents seized a crossing in the southwest frontier area near Israel on Thursday from a small group of rival Islamist fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said. If confirmed, the capture would represent a further advance for Ahrar al-Sham, one of the main jihadist groups in Syria alongside Islamic State and al Qaeda's Syria wing Nusra Front... The Observatory said Ahrar al-Sham and allied fighters took the crossing in Syria's southern Quinetra province from a group called Army of Jihad, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Control of the crossing has passed between several insurgent groups, who have occasionally worked together but have also fought each other in Syria's chaotic conflict. The area is sensitive due to its proximity to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights... 
As we said, a random selection. The real problem? Tomorrow is another day.

30-Apr-15: What Gaza's oppressed know that reporters don't, and why it matters

Anti-Hamas protest in Gaza yesterday [Image Source]
Little reported news from Gaza today via Agence France Presse
Hamas police beat, arrest protesters at Gaza rally | GAZA CITY (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) - Police in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip beat and arrested protesters on Wednesday at a youth rally in the north of the besieged Palestinian territory, an AFP correspondent said. More than 400 demonstrators gathered in Shejaiya, a neighbourhood in eastern Gaza City that was razed during a July-August war between Hamas and Israel, urging reconstruction and calling for an end to intra-Palestinian division. Plainclothes police officers entered the crowd, beating a number of protesters without causing serious injury, the AFP correspondent said. They then arrested at least seven people, according to witnesses. The Hamas-run interior ministry said in a statement that the crowd had grown violent, forcing police to intervene "to protect the lives of those participating, after which calm prevailed"... With Hamas continuing to control Gaza, Israel has left in place its eight-year blockade, which has largely banned the import of building materials, fearing they could be used by militants to make weapons... Reconstruction of homes has barely begun...
There's a similar report in the New York Times today [here], with a similar degree of superficiality and spin.

We don't claim to have any direct sources in Gaza where a miserable population struggles to keep families together under the Islamist jackboot of the Hamas regime. But it does appear we know more than the AFP editors and their reporters. Or maybe we are just more honest. For instance:
  • Not a word in this AFP piece about the colossal investment of construction materials, in particular cement, that went into the construction of Gaza's city-beneath-the-city of attack tunnels, largely but not completely neutralized by Israeli military action this past summer, and by Egypt more recently. 
  • Hamas bleated for years to gullible foreign reporters about Israel preventing imports and exports. In reality they were diverting vast resources away from their people's needs and into the bottomless pit of their war-mongering capability. COGAT, an arm of Israel's Ministry of Defense, routinely reports on truck loads (by the hundreds daily) of goods entering and leaving Gaza, including construction materials. That information gets routinely ignored in news stories covering life in Hamas-controlled Gaza.
  • We learned, when visiting Kerem Shalom two and a half years ago ["2-Oct-12: Gaza and the perils of Arab solidarity"], that on a daily basis, many truck-loads - sometimes hundreds of them at a time - get approved by Israel after being requested by the Gazan side and then simply fail to show up. The entire import/export enterprise affecting Gaza is routinely manipulated by its Hamas masters.
  • Hamas has a proven history, starting with the intra-Palestinian blood-letting that brought it to power in 2007, of dumping its own people at the very bottom of its strategic priorities. For all practical purposes, that means 1.8 million men, women and especially children held hostage to a grand Islamist/Moslem Brotherhood plan. That plan seeks to overcome Israel's material advantages by (appallingly) creating a pool of strategic misery - self-inflicted and exceptionally cruel - with the goal of achieving victory in actual war by sacrificing its own people, with a cold-blooded focus on children. That history is well-known, of course, to the Gazans. It's why they knowingly took to the streets to protest this week. A pity the reporters failed to mention it. Is this self-censorship or ignorance? It hardly matters. The result is the same.
  • While new housing gets shoved aside by the Gazan leadership despite the desperate need, tunnel construction - involving steel, cement, electricity infrastructure - is proceeding at full speed [see some of the evidence here] with virtually unlimited access to the very resources that Gaza's ordinary people don't get to see. 
Egyptian soldiers seize control of a Gazan tunnel in this
November 2014 news photo [Image Source]
In case there's any doubt about that last point, here is what has been happening in Gaza's underground empire just this week, from Palestinian Arab news sources Albawaba and Maan:
  • "A Palestinian worker died on Monday when a tunnel collapsed in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, a health official said. A Ministry of Health spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that Muhammad Khalid al-Najjar, 27, was killed in the incident. His body has been taken to the Abu Youssef al-Najjar hospital..."
  • "Last week, Ahmad Majed Salim al-Saqqa, 19, from Khan Younis died after he was electrocuted in a tunnel beneath Rafah,.. "
  • "[A]nother Palestinian from Khan Younis, Ibrahim Fathi Isleih, 21, died a week before in similar circumstances."
But Gaza is impoverished, right? And lacking basic construction items, correct? How can Hamas possibly get its hands on what's needed and fund the huge investment required by those tunnels and the supporting infrastructure? The Telegraph UK knows:
Iran 'is intensifying efforts to support Hamas in Gaza' | Iran has transferred tens of millions of dollars to Hamas's military wing in Gaza to help it rebuild after last summer's conflict with Israel, intelligence sources state | April 4, 2015 | Iran has sent Hamas’s military wing tens of millions of dollars to help it rebuild the network of tunnels in Gaza destroyed by Israel’s invasion last summer, intelligence sources have told The Sunday Telegraph. It is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks used to bombard residential neighbourhoods in Israel during the war... Iran has sponsored Hamas’s military operations for years, despite the contradiction that Hamas is part of the worldwide, Sunni-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood, while Iran is Shia... [The Telegraph UK, April 4, 2015]
Oddly, none of this background found its way into the AFP/France24 report. Might this be connected to the way Gaza's misery is a function of what Gaza's powerful insiders (most of whom live far from Gaza) decide to approve and to refuse? Gazans know (and are prepared to get beaten in the streets for it), even if the news people don't.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

29-Apr-15: Almost entirely unreported, violent Arab attacks in and on Jerusalem

Jerusalem's Light Rail serves Arab neighbourhoods of the city but
is attacked almost daily by rock-hurling Palestinian Arabs [Image Source]
Traveling outside Israel (which is what we were doing for the past week) puts you in a position where news reports of the daily acts of violence in this ongoing war are liable to pass almost without being noticed.

Here are some notes (based on news items originally published by Israel National News and a handful of other sources) on events of the past week that, like us, you might not have picked up.

April 25, 2015 (Saturday)
  • A 17-year-old Palestinian Arab attacked security personnel manning two checkpoints near Ma’ale Adumim. He was armed with a meat-cleaver and a knife. The attack was foiled when he was shot and killed.
  • A Palestinian Arab, a resident of the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat, drove his car directly at four Israelis standing at the location known as the Kohanim Route in the village of A-Tur, part of Jerusalem, on Saturday night. A woman in her twenties suffered moderate injuries (though we see the Jerusalem Post said she is in critical condition. The injuries of three other people were defined as light. The vehicle was founded abandoned later the same night, and following an intensive police search, the driver was found and arrested.
  • Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was driving to the scene of the attack the same evening when his vehicle came under a hail of rocks hurled by people from the roadside. The mayor's car was damaged, but there are fortunately no injuries to report. 
  • Not far from Jerusalem, on Route 443, the road that connects north Jerusalem with the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and with the new city of Modi'in in-between, a Kavim commuter bus was firebombed on Saturday night. Fortunately there were no passengers on board and the drive was unhurt. One source reports that security forces located a second firebomb nearby, evidently prepared and about to be hurled at something in the vicinity.
April 26, 2015 (Sunday)
  • A security guard was attacked during the evening while he was standing, evidently on duty, at a bus stop in the community of Eli. The purpose of the attack, carried out by a 19-year-old Palestinian Arab resident of Nablus, appears to have been to steal the security man's weapon. The attacker was replled, and handed over to the police.
  • In a second weapons-related attack, an Arab prisoner serving time in Ketziot Prison on terror charges, and for being a member of Islamic Jihad, a prohibited terror organization, attempted to grab the gun of a security guard by coming at him armed with a can opener. The guard's face suffered lacerations, but he managed to subdue the prisoner. The Arab is now in solitary confinement, and will be charged with attacking a guard.
  • Outside the ancient Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron around 6:15 pm, a serving member of the Border Police suffered stab wounds to the head and upper body, and left in moderate condition, after coming under knife attack by a Palestinian Arab, Assad al-Salayma, 20. The attacker was shot dead on the spot by other officers. 
  • Arab rock-throwers attacked the Jerusalem Light Rail while it was passing through the Shuafat, Jerusalem, neighbourhood. There are no injuries but one of the tram cars was damaged. Attacks on the Light Rail's 23 vehicles have become an almost daily occurrence.
  • Rioting continued in the A-Tur neighborhood, close to where the tram was attacked. Rocks and fire-bombs were hurled at police and security personnel.
And a postscript to an earlier report we posted here: "17-Apr-15: In the aftermath of another lethal car-ramming in Jerusalem". The driver of the vehicle in that attack, which resulted in the killing of a young man, Shalom Yohai Cherki, 25, and the injuring of the young woman who was standing at the French Hill bus stop with him, has now confessed:
Khaled Koutineh confessed to carrying out the vehicular terrorist attack last Wednesday, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day,” the authorities said in a statement. “Koutineh confessed to carrying out the attack with the intention of harming Jews, a decision he made just moments before the actual deed,” the statement read. The authorities said that Koutineh was driving along Route 1, searching for Jews on the side of the road to run over. Eventually, he came upon a junction in French Hill and targeted the bus stop. Koutineh initially told interrogators that he had suffered from mental imbalances, though authorities said he admitted to concocting the alibi in hopes of evading a stiff penalty. [Jerusalem Post, April 21, 2015]
Most people, even those who think of themselves as careful readers of news from the Middle East and well informed on the Arab/Israel conflict, have no idea any of these events happened.

29-Apr-15: Iran's terrorists-by-proxy: getting on with what they do - in quiet neighbourhoods near you

Yes, still wanted [Image Source]
Some of the killers of a bus-load of Israeli tourists bombed at a Burgas airport in Bulgaria in 2012 are still free.

If Burgas has slipped off your radar, here's a reminder of two reports we posted at the time: "20-Jul-12: US says Hezbullah and its primary sponsor Iran executed the Burgas, Bulgaria, killings" and "21-Jul-12: How involved in terror against Israelis and Jews are the Iranians?"

Authorities in the US announced on Tuesday that three Hezbollah agents, two of them accused of being behind the murderous attack on Israelis in Bulgaria, have just been put onto an official terror watch list [source: Hezbollah suspects placed on special US terror list | AFP | April 29, 2015]
The State Department named Meliad Farah, Hassan el-Hajj Hassan and Hussein Atris as "specially designated global terrorists." The terror designation makes it illegal for US citizens to engage in any transactions with the three men, and freezes any property they might possess within the United States. All three men are Lebanese by birth, but Farah was identified as an Australian national, while Hassan el-Hajj Hassan is Canadian. Meliad Farah and Hassan el-Hajj Hassan were placed on the list for their alleged role in the July 2012 suicide attack on a bus at the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria that killed six people, including five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian citizen. Hussein Atris, who the State Department said has Swedish nationality, was identified as a member of Hezbollah's overseas terrorism unit. He was arrested in 2012 in Thailand as a suspect in a plot to carry out a bombing in Bangkok and was sentenced by a Thai court to two years and eight months in prison for possessing illegally possessing explosives. He was released in September 2014, and is believed, like the other two men, to currently be in Lebanon. Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah, which is backed financially and politically by Iran, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
The formal State Department announcement is online here.

Many people may mentally dismiss the dangers posed by terrorists, like these, who spend their days and nights in far-off non-threatening Lebanon. Keep away from Lebanon, we figure, and everything's cool. But it is not entirely like that. What might not be fully appreciated is that when they are not plotting, planning and re-equipping in that lawless viper's nest of Islamist bombers and other terrorist thugs, these people - as the AFP report points out - move freely in their second homes: Australia, Canada, Sweden.

A Sydney Morning Herald report ["Australian Meliad Farah will be tried for Israeli tourist bus bombing in Bulgaria", September 13, 2013] suggested a little misleadingly that the suspected killer named as Meliad Farah was going to be indicted and tried real soon. But in reality, the 32-year-old better known in Australia (where he holds citizenship and - contrary to the FBI statement - where he was born) as Hussein Hussein, has not actually been arrested. Yet.

The other murder-by-terrorism fugitive, Hassan el-Hajj Hassan, lived in Canada from the time he was eight years old [source]. Chances are he looks and seems more like an ordinary resident of Winnipeg than a Middle Easterner.

Speaking of terrorists: Mohammad Khazaee, Iran's
ambassador to the United Nations, [Image Source]
How much simpler life would be if jihadis and Islamism-fuelled killers had posters glued to their foreheads saying who they are and what they plan to do. Unfortunately figuring out who they are and when and where they next intend to attack unsuspecting victims can be a serious and complicated challenge.

As for connecting them with the government of Iran's burgeoning terrorism wing, the Iranians themselves say that's unfair. No less a personage than Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations His Excellency Mr Mohammad Khazaee said it was Israel, not his own country. that actually carried out the Burgas airport bus bombing attack. How so? Because of this compelling argument:
"Such [a] terrorist operation could only be planned and carried out by the same regime whose short history is full of state terrorism operations and assassinations aimed at implicating others for narrow political gains..." [Telegraph UK, July 26, 2012]
The Iranian added for good measure that there were many examples of when Israel had killed "its own citizens or innocent Jewish people in order to blame others", and said it was "suspicious" that Israel had accused Iran of masterminding the bombing so soon after the attack.

There are some additional insights into this charming man's approach to diplomacy in a revealing February 2013 article on the Forbes Magazine site: "Meet Iran's Ambassador to the UN":
With his neat mustache and well-cut jackets, Khazaee looks like the very model of an earnest diplomat... Khazaee is one of the Iranian ambassadors described in the complaint as having directed the activities of the Alavi Foundation, starting soon after his 2007 arrival as Iran’s envoy to the U.N. in New York... Protected by diplomatic immunity, he remains an urbane presence at the U.N., with access to Manhattan, making connections, peddling propaganda, turning up last year on TV’s Charlie Rose talk show... If Khazaee, with his mannered inflections and his buttoned vest, appears worlds removed from Iran’s goose-stepping Revolutionary Guards, or Iran’s boorish President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (threatening in his lounge suit to wipe Israel off the map), that’s because Khazaee’s job is to cover for them on the diplomatic stage. [Forbes]
We happen to have written in the past about the Alavi Foundation that's mentioned in the Forbes quote. See "18-Sep-13: Striking back at the money that enables the terrorists" and "19-Apr-14: One small step for civilized society; one substantial leap in the fight against the terrorists"

A small measure of how insane some aspects of international relations have become in this terrorism-rich age: Khazaee - who on 14 September 2011 publicly accused Obama and the US of deploying "nuclear blackmail against a non-nuclear-weapon state", namely his country, Iran - was elected Vice President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

28-Apr-15: In Malaysia, years of anti-semitic exhortations along the path to anti-Israel terror

"Glad to be labeled anti-semitic": Malaysia's longest-serving
political leader Mahathir Mohamad demonstrating characteristic
chumminess in Kuala Lumpur two years ago with Hamas
arch-terrorist Khaled Meshaal [Image Source]
Israel's Shin Bet internal security service is said - according to an expose published today on the Haaretz English-language news site - to have publicly exposed detailed evidence of Hamas terrorism-focused activities in far-off Malaysia. [Source: "Shin Bet: Hamas training Palestinian students in Malaysia" | Haaretz | April 28, 2015]

Among the allegations:
  • Hamas is taking Palestinian Arabs to Malaysia for training as 'operatives' (meaning terrorists). On their return, these people are to carry out undercover operations on returning to the West Bank.
  • A Palestinian Arab from Hebron, Waseem Qawasmeh, 24, is on trial in an IDF military court, charged with membership of a banned organization, with having contact with the enemy and receiving money from the enemy. He was arrested on February 13 at the Allenby Bridge (which crosses the Jordan River, providing a road connection between the Hashemite Kingdom and the areas controlled by the Mahmoud Abbas-controlled PA). He had just returned from Malaysia, as well as having spent part of his training period in Hamas-friendly Turkey. The indictment papers were filed with the court on March 18, according to the Haaretz article, and form the basis of its expose.
  • Senior Hamas officials including Ma'an Hatib and Radwan al-Atrash, live in Malaysia and took part in the facts giving rise to the indictment. The Shin Bet says Hatib is "responsible in Malaysia for the Hamas foreign desk", while the well-named Atrash is "a senior figure" in its Shura Council, a religion-connected body that includes Islamist figures connected with Hamas.
  • Part of the terrorism prep training involves pushing the Pal Arab jihadism cadets into joining the Malaysian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood and getting involved with pro-Palestinian charities active in that country.
  • Among their missions, these recruits then serve as couriers messengers between the PA-controlled areas and third countries, as well as being involved with clandestine transfers of funds to serve the Hamas terror organization's requirements.
Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and support for Hamas and its overt embrace of terror has been part of its political figures' public declarations for years. The current prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, visited the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in January 2013.

Malaysia's Jewish population, always a tiny number, has shrunk further in the wake of years of vile, fully-open Jew-hatred spouted from the country's highest political echelons. A 2012 article in Canada's National Post ["Anti-Semitism without Jews in Malaysia"] notes that Malaysia's
politicians and civil servants devote a surprising amount of time to thinking about Israel, 7,612 km away. Sometimes they appear to be obsessed by it. Malaysia has never had a dispute with Israel, but the government encourages the citizens to hate Israel and also to hate Jews whether they are Israelis or not. Few Malaysians have laid eyes on a Jew; the tiny Jewish community emigrated decades ago. Nevertheless, Malaysia has become an example of a phenomenon called “Anti-Semitism without Jews.” Last March, for instance, the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department sent out an official sermon to be read in all mosques, stating that “Muslims must understand Jews are the main enemy to Muslims as proven by their egotistical behaviour and murders performed by them.” About 60% of Malaysians are Muslim. In Kuala Lumpur, it’s routine to blame the Jews for everything from economic failures to the bad press Malaysia gets in foreign (“Jewish-owned”) newspapers...
If that's an exaggeration, it's not much of one. A Malaysian newspaper, showcasing the career of the most prominent of Malaysia's leaders, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who served as the country's prime minister for 22 years between 1981 and 2002. provides some illustrative quotes:
"I am glad to be labelled anti-Semitic... How can I be otherwise, when the Jews who so often talk of the horrors they suffered during the Holocaust show the same Nazi cruelty and hard-heartedness towards not just their enemies but even towards their allies should any try to stop the senseless killing of their Palestinian enemies..."
That article, published in The Malaysian Insider, refers to Mahathir's speech to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit in 2003:
"[T]he Nazis killed six million Jews out of 12 million (during the Holocaust). But today, the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them"... adding this time that any sympathy accorded to the victims of the Holocaust was "wasted and misplaced".
Keep in mind Malaysia currently sits on the UN Security Council, where one of its most senior diplomats sees it having a role he bizarrely calls "constructive" in resolving a certain generations-long confrontation. See "Malaysia wants role in finding UN solution to Palestine-Israel conflict", a Malaysian news report from less than a week ago.

This might be a very good moment to review some of the thousands of Google links that pop up when you search on the term "Moderate Malaysia". Here's a fine example from 2009 among many others: "The Myth Of A Moderate Malaysia", from Forbes Magazine, in which the author addresses himself to
those scanning the globe for a Muslim-majority country that inspires neither dread nor despair [and] often alight upon Malaysia.
He explains why this optimism could be a teeny bit misplaced.

We are currently scanning the on-line Malaysian media to see how those years of foaming-at-the-mouth racist Mahathir-isms, are impacting on this latest round of made-in-Malaysia terrorism-friendly developments. Stay tuned.

28-Apr-15: Just back from Canada and updates coming

Sorry for the long delay between posts. Fresh posts coming shortly now that we're back home.

Friday, April 17, 2015

17-Apr-15: In the aftermath of another lethal car-ramming in Jerusalem

The driver is now arrested
Wednesday night's car-ramming of Israeli commuters standing at a French Hill, Jerusalem, bus stop [reported here] has resulted in the arrest of the driver of the ramming vehicle.

The Jerusalem Post says Khaled Koutineh, a 37 year-old Palestinian Arab resident of the village of Anata, east of Jerusalem, "was motivated by nationalistic reasons to drive his vehicle" into Shalom Yohai Cherki, 25, and Shira Klein, 20. The two were standing together at the French Hill bus stop on Haim Bar Lev Boulevard in north Jerusalem. Cherki, son of a prominent family, suffered severe traumatic head trauma and died soon after the attack. Shira Klein is fighting for her life in hospital. The vehicle driven by the accused struck them at high speed.

A statement last night [Thursday] by Israel Police indicated that the car-ramming was likely an act of terror. Today's report, after the police interrogation had gone on for some hours, said there was cause to believe
that Khaled Koutineh, 37, from Anata, was motivated by nationalistic reasons to drive his vehicle into Cherki and Shira Klein, who is in her 20s, and remains hospitalized. “After the suspect was questioned, the preliminary findings reinforced that the incident was an attack; however, the investigation is continuing,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Thursday. Koutineh was arraigned at Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court earlier in the day, where a judge extended his remand through Monday. His lawyer, Nasser Massis, claimed that Koutineh is not a terrorist, but rather lost control of the vehicle due to inclement driving conditions. “My client denied all involvement in criminal activity. [He] claim[s] this was a normal traffic accident that was not unreasonable given the circumstances,” Massis said. “There was heavy rainfall and the defendant believes the court will ultimately release him.”
The alleged attacker's wife explained [Times of Israel] her husband's innocence. He had left his house at around 10 p.m. Wednesday to drive his parents to their home in Jerusalem’s Old City and the accident was "caused by the bad weather at the time... He has no political awareness. He doesn’t even watch the news,” she said."

UPDATE April 30, 2015: Police released video footage today showing just how politically unaware the driver was: view it here. Khaled Koutineh has confessed to carrying out the car-ramming attack. A criminal indictment against him was filed in Jerusalem on Monday April 27, 2015.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

16-Apr-15: At a bus stop stop in Jerusalem's French Hill on Holocaust Memorial Day, two lives upended

Around 11 on Wednesday night, we posted this to our Twitter account:
Those first reports were unclear, though the sounds of emergency vehicles - clearly heard in our part of Israel's capital at a late hour - conveyed urgency and danger. There is still no confirmation from the authorities that what happened was a calculated act of terror via lethal vehicle. But the indications that it was are significant.

From Haaretz this morning ["Israeli man dies after possible Jerusalem car ramming attack"]:
Palestinian driver has been detained as part of the investigation; Police probing terror motives | Nir Hasson | April 16, 2015 | An Israeli man died Thursday morning of injuries sustained after being struck by a car in Jerusalem the previous night. The victim has been identified as Shalom Yohai Sherki, 25. He was the son of Rabbi Uri Sherki and [brother of] Channel 2 correspondent, Yair Sherki. The driver, a Palestinian, has been detained by police. Police and the Shin Bet security service were investigationg the incident and trying to determine whether the attack was intentional.They have not ruled out the possibility that it was an accident... Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat arrived at the scene Wednesday night along with heavy police forces and emergency crew. The incident occurred on Route 1, not far from some of the car ramming attacks in Jerusalem in recent months.
Those attacks were acts of terror beyond any doubt. We reported on two here just last month ["07-Mar-15: For some, but only some, Friday's Jerusalem ramming/slashing was yet another terror attack" and "06-Mar-15: Jerusalem, Purim and terror... once again"]

Shalom Yochai Sherki Z"L
Israel National News tells us more about one of the victims:
Son of Prominent Rabbi Victim in Possible 'Car Terror' Incident | The Israeli killed when he and a companion were hit by an Arab driver is Shalom Yohai Sherki, the son of the well-known Rabbi Uri Sherki | Moshe Cohen | First Publish: 4/16/2015, 9:00 AM
The Israeli killed Wednesday night when he and a companion were hit by an Arab driver is Shalom Yohai Sherki, the son of the popular Rabbi Uri Sherki, and brother of Channel Two journalist Yair Sherki. Shalom studied at the Bnei Tzvi Torani yeshiva high school in Beit El and was employed there as a youth counselor after his IDF service. The 25 year old victim's funeral will be held Thursday, the family said.
Still in critical condition is a second victim, a female around 20 years of age. Doctors are fighting to save her life. The two were hit late Wednesday by an Arab driver from Jerusalem, who slammed into the two at a bus stop in the French Hill area of Jerusalem. Police questioned the suspect overnight, and suspect that terror might have been the motive of the driver, who sought to kill Jews on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, police sources said. The suspect is to be transferred to the Shabak for questioning Thursday. The suspect was slightly injured in the incident, and was treated at the site by Magen David Adom volunteers.
Rabbi Uri Sherki is well-known in Religious Zionist circles. A close student of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, he is head of the Israeli student department in Machon Meir and rabbi of the Beit Yehuda synagogue. Born in Algeria, Rabbi Sherki, was raised in France, and is a popular figure among French Jews. His Torah lectures often focus on Philosophy and Religion. Yair Sherki is the religious affairs correspondent for Channel Two... 
Today, Holocaust Memorial Day (the 27th day of the month of Nissan) is when Jews reflect on the hatred that costs lives and futures.