From the Brooklyn Bridge to London
Nearly 20 years after a Hasidic Jewish boy riding across the Brooklyn Bridge was killed by a Muslim fighting jihad, a British soldier was reportedly hacked to death on the streets of London by Muslims fighting jihad.
Thanks to the happenstance of a passer-by with a video recorder, the world heard almost immediately from one of the two London suspects, Michael Adebolajo. His hands red with blood, he confessed to the murder he had just committed in Quran-correct terms of revenge, presumably for Britain's efforts against jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also know that cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”) punctuated the knifing of the victim.
But if “Allahu Akbar” is the historic cry of Muslims engaged in jihad, it is also the contemporary trigger for Western denial that jihad exists.
“We will defeat violent extremism by standing together,” British Prime Minister David Cameron stated, gravely opaque. How? “Above all, by challenging the poisonous narrative of extremism on which this violence feeds,” he said, definitely not referring to the verses of the Quran that inspire jihad.
Islam, the prime minister was saying, has nothing to do with this murder. Furthermore, global jihad is not underway.
Flash back almost two decades to March 1994, one year after the first attack on the World Trade Center and shortly after an Israeli doctor, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Muslims in a mosque in Hebron. Goldstein's act was uniformly denounced by Israeli and Jewish authorities, but it nonetheless engendered calls for jihad from Islamic authorities around the world. It was at this point in New York City that 16-year-old Ari Halberstam was shot and killed on the Brooklyn Bridge by Rashid Baz, a “Middle East” man or “Arab” — the vernacular of the day for Muslim.
Nonetheless, in an earlier iteration of jihad-denial, discussion of the Brooklyn Bridge case actually focused on “road rage.” What we were looking at, of course, was an act of jihad — among the first of many thousands leading up to the recent London attack.
This became clear during Baz's murder trial. According to testimony presented by the defense, Baz thought of himself as “an Arab soldier crusader” — what we now know as a jihadist. Such was the testimony of Baz's own psychiatrist, Dr. Douglas Anderson.
Last week in New York, 16 Palestinians (14 of them in the U.S. illegally) were charged in a multimillion-dollar cigarette smuggling case, raising the possibility that authorities may have cracked a new jihad financing ring. As New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly put it, “Similar schemes have been used in the past to help fund terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Hamas, a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran's Hezbollah (“Party of Allah”) are indeed terrorist organizations, but they are also avowedly jihadist. Kelly went on to note that several of the men were “on our radar with links to known terrorists.”
We seem to be looking anew at the jihad terror cell that killed Ari Halberstam. No wonder Kelly last week declared the Halberstam case “open.” There is much more to investigate — but this time with our eyes open to jihad, please. The people of New York, London and beyond deserve that much.
Diana West's new book is “American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character,” from St. Martin's Press.