I published a column by this title today, documenting thirteen cases of presumptive Islamist terrorism, when the first response of the police, prosecutors, and politicians is to look the other way, insisting that there is no link.
But my column lacked space to include all the prior cases, and no doubt future ones will come along, so here is an ongoing factual appendix:
- The 1991 murder of Makin Morcos, a Coptic doctor living in Sydney, Australia, gunned down at his medical practice. A month after the shooting, his offices were torched by an arsonist. An outspoken critic of the oppression of Copts in Egypt, Morcos had since 1985 been making broadcasts on 2BCR radio. Muslim organizations formally complained about his radio show and he received some ten death threats in the mail, one of which stated, "We're going to get you - we're going to take your life away." Despite these leads, Detective Constable Glen Porter said the police had no evidence to suggest the killing was politically or religiously motivated. "At the moment it could just be a robbery gone wrong but something might come up later to suggest otherwise." That something did not "come up" and the coroner discounted the suggestion that it was a political killing, concluding instead that Morcos was probably murdered by a disgruntled patient or by drug addicts in a robbery that went awry. (Sources: The Daily Telegraph Mirror, April 19, 1991, The Sydney Morning Herald, April 27, 1991, and August 15, 1992; with thanks to Mark Durie for the information.)
- The 1993 murder of the Reverend Doug Good, a pastor in Western Australia, stabbed to death just before he was going to officiate at the marriage between a Christian man and an Iranian woman who had converted from Islam to Christianity. Good's attacker, an Iranian Muslim, killed the pastor while visiting his home, claiming he was defending himself form a homosexual advance. He was convicted and sentenced to six years of jail time for "unintentional killing."
- The 2000 Molotov cocktail attack on the synagogue in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Palestinian assailant was said to be "angered" by Israeli actions against the Palestinians, with no hint of his aggressive action having the goal of intimidation.
- The 2000 triple assault by Nabil Ouldeddine, 29, in Stamford Hill, North London of David Myers, 20, a Hasidic Jew, as they rode the upper deck of bus #253. After his arrest, Ouldeddine told officers: "Israel are the murderers. They kill women and children, so I stabbed him." Myers suffered from a severed artery and was only saved in a 10-hour emergency operation. Police treated the attack as a racially motivated incident Ouldeddine pleaded insanity, telling psychiatrists heard voices and a woman called Jennifer guided his arm to attack Myers. The jury found him not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity. The court also heard that Ouldeddine was a one-legged high jumper; and if that were not in itself, an oxymoron, it also contradicts a report from the time of the attack that Ouldeddine "escaped from the bus after threatening the driver, and was chased down the street by a witness before jumping on another bus."
- The 2001 explosion at the AZF fertilizer factory outside Toulouse, France, the worst-ever catastrophe in a French chemical plant, included among the dead a known Islamist working in the plant wearing the multiple layers of clothing the coroner compared that of suicide jihadis; still, the authorities professed to find "no shred of evidence" of the explosion being a terrorist act.
- The December 2001 crash of a rental plane half a mile from the San Onofre nuclear plant, near San Diego. "A woman identified by the county Medical Examiner's Office as Celina Muhammad, 29, was killed in the crash. The pilot, identified by the Coast Guard yesterday as Jamul Muhammad, 26, of Los Angeles, was pulled from the water barely clinging to life," wrote the San Diego Union-Tribune. The authorities seemed unperturbed by their proximity to a nuclear plant.
- The May 2002 fire at the Israeli embassy in Paris that broke out at about 2:00 a.m., and required 150 firefighters two hours to bring it under control, destroyed the building. Ambassador Elie Barnavi noted that "Basically there is no embassy anymore. That is the story, everything that was inside has been destroyed. The only thing that remains is outside of the building." He blamed the fire "most probably" on an accident; "The initial assumption is that it was caused by an electric fault." Paris police chief Jean-Paul Proust told reporters that "The embassy is totally destroyed. At this moment, we have no indication of the cause of this fire."
Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris, praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
- The October 2002 stabbing in the stomach of the Jewish, Socialist, and openly homosexual mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, by a Muslim, Azedine Berkane, 39. According to a report in the Guardian, "The police said he was a Muslim but had no links to radical Islamist organisations and there was apparently no terrorist connection."
- The 2003 murder of two American soldiers by Hasan Akbar at an army base in Kuwait, U.S. Army spokespersons responded with talk about an "attitude problem," a desire for "retribution," and "resentment." The chief chaplain at Akbar's home base announced without any evidence that the murders were "not an expression of faith."
- The 2003 murder of Sébastian Sellam (also spelled Sébastien Selam), 23, a disc jockey at a Parisian night club, killed in an underground parking lot by a Muslim neighbor who slit his throat twice and mutilated his face with a fork, even gouging out his eyes. The assailant announced to Sellam's horrified mother, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven." He has been hospitalized for mental illness and apparently will never stand trial. Dec. 10, 2009 update: Six years after the murder was committed, a French court might put Sellam's murderer, Adel Amastaibou, on trial, thanks to a 2008 penal law.
- The 2003 murder of Chantal Piekolek, 53, as she was working in her Parisian shoe store when Mohamed Ghrib, 37, entered the store and stabbed her 27 times in the neck and chest. There was no evidence of sexual assault.
- The 2003 electricity power outage in large parts of the mid-western and northeastern parts of the United States. Asked why this happened, George W. Bush replied vaguely, "we'll find out why, and we'll deal with the problem." Despite his uncertainty, he also stated "One thing I think I can say for certain is that this was not a terrorist act." The rule seems to be: Deny first, then find out the facts.
Moustafa Chaouki wrecked car outside a McDonald's resturant in Brescia, Italy.
- The 2004 shooting of a school principle in the Netherlands by a Muslim student. Murat B.'s killing of Hans van Wierden was, writes MilitantIslamMonitor.org, "played down in the Dutch media even after fellow students rallied in support of the killer holding up signs reading 'Murat We Love You' and stating their intent to hold up a large photograph of the killer at the teacher's memorial service.
- The 2005 rampage by Mustafa Mohamed, 30, at the Goodwin House retirement community in Alexandria, Virginia, injuring six elderly residents, four of them seriously, including one who suffered a broken neck. Mohamed had been on the housekeeping staff at the house since 2003; Virginia's S. Randolph Sengel was paraphrased saying that the attack "might have stemmed from a disagreement between the suspect and another staff member at the facility." (With thanks to William Gawthrop.)
Additionally, some airplane incidents might have been whitewashed. The year 2001 saw the shooting down over Ukraine of a Sibir airliner from Israel to Russia, killing 77, ascribed to the accidental launching of a Ukrainian military missile; and the crash of American Airlines 587 in New York, killing 265, where the NTSB found "no evidence [of] … any criminality" despite the possible presence of an Al-Qaeda operative.
Readers are invited to send other examples of denying Islamist terrorism to me at the address below. (February 8, 2005)
- It's not just Islamist terrorism that gets whitewashed. The 2005 firebombing of a synagogue in Lugano, Switzerland, destroying practically its entire library, and the simultaneous attack on a Jewish-owned store, apparently had nothing to do with antisemitism. Rather, the 58-year-old arsonist, a former Lugano bus driver, was said by the prosecutor's office to be mentally unstable and unable to explain how he chose his targets. (March 24, 2005)
- Russell Dicky, 36, an American tourist from San Diego was vacationing in Simon's Town, near Cape Town, South Africa, and stopped at a café for a samoosa. He picked one up and asked the store proprietor, Abdul Hoosen, 67, "By the way, what's in the samoosa?" Then, reports Helen Bamford in a front-page story in the Cape Argus, Abdul Hoosen looked at him and said: "You Americans ask stupid questions." Dicky replied. "Pardon me?" Hoosen repeated, "You Americans are very stupid." Dicky asked for his money back, at which point Abdul Hoosen came at him with a long, serrated kitchen knife, yelling "Listen to me; listen to me; listen to me. I will kill you. I will kill you. You don't mean anything to me," and put the knife to his throat. Dicky recounted in his court testimony that Abdul Hoosen then "went on about the United States and George Bush and Iraq." Finally, with the help of Abdul Hoosen's son, the knife was taken from him – but the verbal abuse continued. "Are you from California? Because all men from California sleep with other men and are all homosexual." Abdul Hoosen pleaded not guilty and told the court he could not recollect the incident. The Simon's Town magistrate's court convicted Abdul Hoosen of assault. Magistrate Willem Cornelius fined him 1,500 Rand or 30 days in prison and declared him unfit to own a firearm. To quote Bamford: Cornelius "added that the court needed to ensure people kept their tempers and didn't let their thoughts spill over into violence, especially when it was political." It bears noting that a local Muslim publication looked with understanding at Abdul Hoosen's action. (June 4, 2005)
The firebombed house of D. de Haas.
- The killing of an Amsterdam resident, D. de Haas, by firebombing his house. This violence culminated years of tensions but the police and press ignored the motivations. (Nov. 30, 2005)
- Ali R. Warrayat, 24, according to Arizona's East Valley Tribune, "hadn't slept in days, planning this moment down to the last detail. … He placed both hands on the steering wheel, stared straight ahead and barrelled toward the front entrance. … Now, his face was void of any expression. A store employee jumped out of the car's path. To drown out the man's yells, Warrayat reached over to his car radio and blasted Arabic music before crashing" into the Home Depot store in Chandler on Dec. 18, 2005. "At first, he wanted to wear a Palestinian flag, but later decided to place it in the trunk of his car, along with a copy of the Quran and a necklace." The Arizona State University student from Jordan "told Chandler police he was angry at Home Depot, where he worked as a paint stocker, about not getting a proper raise.
Ali Warrayat, the Home Depot assailant.
- The tormenting and murder of Ilan Halimi, a Jew, by his Islamist thug captors was for many days not registered as antisemitism or as terrorism by the French authorities. Here is the Brussels Journal on the topic, in "French Police Fails to See Anti-Semitism":
Read this headline: "Paris: Gang suspected of killing Jew nabbed." Then the subheadline: "Ilan Halimi, 23-year-old Parisian man, found tied to tree, naked, wounded, with burns covering his body; police arrest 13 suspects, say act not motivated by anti-Semitism."
OK, so that seems pretty clear, just another dead Jew. But hold on a moment, what is this we see down the page, right down at the bottom? "We think there is anti-Semitism in this affair," Rafi, Ilan's brother-in-law, told the European Jewish Press. "First because the killers tried to kidnap at least two other Jews, and secondly because of what they said on the phone. When we said we didn't have Euro 500,000 to give them, they answered we should go to the synagogue and get it," Rafi stressed. "They also recited verses from the Koran. We didn't know what they were saying but the police told us," he said.
Now the police say that they are "not motivated by anti-Semitism, but added that they have not yet discovered what led the group to commit the acts." So what pray do the comments made by the victims family amount to other than possible evidence of a religious motive?
According to AFP, police are still hunting for the gang's suspected leader, a 26-year-old man named Youssef Fofana, who nicknames himself "Brain of Barbarians" and is described as "extremely dangerous." So far 12 people accused of the crime have been arrested in France and one in Belgium.
- At about 8:30 p.m. on June 16, 2006. Mujtaba Rabbani Jabbar, 24, stood in a packed Loews Valley Center movie theater in Owings Mills northwest of Baltimore and "started firing as people were watching" X-Men: The Last Stand," according to a police account.
- Michael Julius Ford, 22, complained (his mother reports) about being teased at work because he was a Muslim. Does that explain why on June 25 at 3 p.m. he killed one co-worker, injured four, and injured a policeman at a Safeway warehouse in Denver, even as he was trying to set fire to it? His motive is not at all clear yet, but as usual, the police said that they cannot "find any motive for the shootings," according to a news report. Also, as usual, he was your average nice kid: "His family said the actions that police describe is totally against Michael's character. Ford has no previous criminal record except for a few minor traffic violations." Also, Safeway spokesman Jeff Stroh said that there were no signs of trouble. "In all of our investigations yesterday and this morning, we can find no problems of any kind that were brought forward involving Mr. Ford—none whatsoever. No complaints to supervisors. No calls to the employee assistance program hotline. Nothing whatsoever to predict this kind of outcome." Until his rampage, Ford had worked unobtrusively in the vast 1.3 million-square-foot building since February 2005, filling orders in the produce department. (June 26, 2006)
Michael Julius Ford
- Naveed Afzal Haq forced his way into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building on July 28, 2006, where he murdered one woman and injured five others while yelling "I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel." This did not convince the authorities, however, that he was engaged in terrorism. David Gomez, assistant special agent-in-charge at the FBI's Seattle office, stated that "There's nothing to indicate that it's terrorism-related," adding, "We believe he is a lone individual with antagonism toward this organization." (Wrong: Haq expressed fury at Israel; the federation was merely a convenient target.) (July 29, 2006) July 30, 2006 update: Press speculations about Haq are haring off in any direction except for jihad. Here is a representative sample of theories, culled from the Los Angeles Times: "Those who knew Haq best described him Saturday as a drifting, sad and mentally troubled figure who was a source of worry and embarrassment for his parents, but not anybody's idea of a political or religious zealot inclined toward violence. … Law enforcement authorities, Haq's friends and his parents' friends all said Saturday that Haq's inner motivations remained a mystery. Some speculated he might have sought to cloak an animus toward women by acting as a self-appointed warrior against Israel or against Jews. Whatever his reasons, Haq had virtually no known history of political activism, and friends described his religious practice — he is Muslim — as dutiful and at times dormant, not fanatical." Comment: Right – that must be it, jihad as a vehicle to express mysoginism.
Omeed Aziz Popal.
- Omeed Aziz Popal, 29 and an Afghan immigrant, was arrested in San Francisco on Aug. 29 after going on a rampage with his SUV, a black Honda Pilot, injuring 14 persons and killing one. The driver started in Fremont, California, where the fatality occurred, and ended up in front of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, where he struck two people. Eye-witnesses described him as "very calm" and "absolutely indifferent, no fear, no expression. He was like a zombie." Despite these hints as to Popal's motives, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom initially responded by terming the assaults "so senseless and inexplicable." He later, at a press conference (quoting from excerpts transcript provided by Hugh Hewitt), called the attacks "road rage," asserted "there seems to be no pattern" to the victims' ethnicity or age. He went on: "We made no assertions that this was a hate crime, though that is being investigated." Newsom concluded that "it doesn't look in any way shape or form" like an attack related to "international relations." Some family members helpfully explained, as paraphrased by the San Francisco Chronicle, that "Popal had mental problems and lived in fear of the devil; others said his recent, arranged marriage may have made him stressed." One cousin even speculated that the family not letting him have a chance to meet or talk to his fiancée could have been the problem. Popal's lawyer, Majeed Samara, added, "My client suffers from mental illness — he has been in and out of the hospital." Samara also quoted Popal's father to the effect that Popal has not been the same since waking up from a bad dream six months ago. One interesting lead: the mosque whch Popal's family attends, the Abu Bakr Siddiq Mosque in Hayward, was the scene of an accident on Aug. 11, 2006, when an elderly non-Muslim man, 77, inadvertently drove his Cadillac into a crowd outside the mosque, injuring 11 persons. To make this farce complete, an eyewitness quoted Popal referring to himself as a "terrorist." (Aug. 30, 2006) Aug. 1, 2008 update: Popal was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He therefore stays out of state prison but he will be institutionalized for at least two years, when he will be entitled to a release hearing. If he is not found sane, he will be entitled to similar hearings every two years. If he is not found sane, he could end up institutionalized for life. The judge placed the burden of proof on Popal for up to 55 years, after which it shifts to the prosecution. Popal next faces murder charges in Alameda County for running down a man on a Fremont street. Should he be convicted there, he would only go to state prison if doctors determined him legally sane in the San Francisco case. Apr. 20, 2009 update: Nearly three years after killing Stephen Jay Wilson, 54, in Fremont, an Alameda County grand jury has indicted Popal for murder. Popal's San Francisco public defender, Sandy Feinland, reacted to the news with disappointment: "two years of careful analysis by the court, the district attorney and court-appointed experts agreed that Mr. Popal was not criminally responsible for the incidents because he suffered from severe mental illness." Further, Popal "had always been a kind, gentle, family-oriented person until he started having hallucinations six months before he was arrested." Aug. 3, 2009 update: Popal pleaded not guilty to murdering Wilson; his attorney, Tony Cheng, says an insanity plea may follow.
Director Berel Weiss looks at some of the damage to the Toldos Yakov Yosef-Skver school.
- A surveillance video showed a masked man throwing a firebomb at the door of the Taldos Yakov Yosef school for boys in Montreal's Outremont neighbourhood, an orthodox Jewish establishment, on September 1, doing $150,000 of damage to the front entrance. The video shows the attacker moving toward the entrance, then stepping back and throwing a lighted Molotov cocktail. "Although officials of Jewish groups disagree," reports the CBC, "police have been unwilling to declare the attack a hate crime. In the absence of graffiti or other evidence, it is being treated as an unexplained case of arson." (Sep. 3, 2006)
Brian Allen Washington, accused of murdering a police detective.
- Jihad Abdullah, 16, swiped a 1991 Toyota on Oct. 1 in Queens, New York and sped around the neighborhood, almost striking several pedestrians until the police forced Abdullah to pull over and arrested him. He was charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, reckless endangerment and unauthorized use of a vehicle. The New York Post described his escapade as "joyriding." It could be that, and nothing more, but it also might well be something more. (Oct. 4, 2006)
- Sulejmen Talovic, 18, went to Salt Lake City's Trolley Square Mall on February 12 armed with a shotgun, a pistol, and plenty of ammunition. He began a rampage in which he killed five people and wounded four others before himself being killed by an off-duty police officer. An immigrant who arrived from Bosnia in 1998, he fits the profile of a sudden jihadi. But Patrick Kiernan, an FBI special agent, suggested otherwise. "we're obviously aware that that [terrorism] is a potential issue out there. But at this point there is nothing that is leading us down this road." Kiernan also said, "It's just unexplainable. He was just walking around and shooting everybody he saw." For more on this subject, see Robert Spencer's article, "Salt Lake Jihad?" (Feb. 15, 2007) Feb. 16, 2007 update: A video recording taken at the time of the shooting spree reveals that "Allahu Akbar" was repeated at two times.
- Austrian authorities arrested two Bosnian Muslims for trying to attack the American Embassy in Vienna, Asim C. (42) and Mehmed D. (34), after the former tried to enter the embassy carrying a backpack packed with grenades, plastic explosives, nails, screws and other metal fragments. In addition, he was carrying an Islamic prayer book. Despite this, Doris Edelbacher, chief spokeswoman for Austria's federal counterterrorism office, dismissed "speculation" that Islam had anything to do with the attack. Erik Buxbaum, chief of Austria's public security, deemed it "too early to speak of an Islamist background." (October 3, 2007)
- Tahmeed Ahmad, 22, born in Kuwait and a naturalized U.S. citizen, admitted (according to an FBI criminal complaint) buying two butcher knives at a Miami Lakes-area Wal-Mart and "two magnum bottles of vodka he hoped to use as Molotov cocktails" at a liquor store. Armed with these late on Oct. 21 he drove to the west entrance at Homestead Air Reserve Base, chanted "Death to America," and "charged the military police officers." An officer fired his handgun at Ahmad but missed. Ahmad was arrested and charged with assaulting a U.S. government employee. He told guards he wanted to kill soldiers; to the FBI, he admitted that he would have used a gun but could not get one because he had not lived long enough in Florida. For unexplained reasons, Ahmad had once been on a federal terrorist watch list. Despite all this, the FBI concluded that the first-year mathematics teacher at Miami Central High did not have terrorism on his mind, but rather "suicide by cop." His mother, Gulnaz Ahmad of East Flushing, N.Y., added that he is mentally ill and had recently been in a mental institution. "I don't why he was depressed and why he was so sad," she said, tearfully. "He needs help." (Oct. 23, 2007)
Feb. 24, 2013 update: I resume this blog today in a new format at "Jihad or Criminality?"