Before Baz, a Palestinian Arab from Lebanon, went on his Brooklyn Bridge jihad, Anderson testified that Baz visited a local Palestinian friend, Musaffaq Askar, who, according to the New York Times, told Baz that he personally was eager to “make jihad” after the Goldstein attack.
Together, the two men went to the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge (which would become notorious for its “extremism,” but was celebrated in a three-part series by the New York Times). There, according to Anderson’s testimony, the imam railed against Jews, calling them racists and fascists like the Nazis. Meanwhile, terror groups such as Hamas urged revenge.
Within days, heavily armed and ready, Baz would pursue and open fire on the van carrying the Hasidic boys – as identifiable as “infidels” by their religious garb as the British soldier was this week in an army charity T-shirt.
Baz, however, would be convicted only of second-degree murder – not terrorism. Ari’s family would spearhead a successful effort to see the murder case re-classified in 2000 as terrorism.
Equally important, however, this terror attack was also jihad. Indeed, 10 days after the 1994 van attack in New York, Hamas made Baz the child-killer a “mujahid” (holy warrior) and “Ibn Islam” (son of Islam) – a role model for others.
It still is jihad. Last week in New York, 16 Palestinians (14 of them in the U.S. illegally) were charged in a multi-million 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.”
One is Rashid Baz’s confidante Musaffaq Askar! According to Ari’s mother, Devorah Halberstam, Askar should have been investigated long ago in a wider, deeper terrorism investigation that never took place.
Also nabbed in the cigarette ring is Mohannad Seif, who, the New York Daily News reports, used to room with the aide of longtime Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk. There is also Youssef Odeh, whose baby formula business (please) included a $10,000 investment from Omar Abdel Rahman, better known to Americans as the “blind sheik” behind the first World Trade Center attack. That investment, as NYPD Commissioner Kelly pointed out, was arranged by Rahman’s spokesman at the time, Ahmed Sattar. The Daily News reported that Kelly called Sattar a “close friend” of Musaffaq Askar.
Nineteen years later, 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. Ari Halberstam, Lee Rigby, the people of New York, London and beyond deserve that much.