The Yemen/Chicago Bomb Plot: Islamic Antisemitism Metastasizes

Bombs were sent to Yemen via UPS to synagogues in Chicago, and the recipients were confused: why should they be singled out? “We’re rather puzzled,” said Rabbi Larry Edwards of Chicago’s Congregation Or Chadash, “at how a little congregation like ours would get on the radar as a target for somebody. I’m hoping for more information.” Emanuel Congregation’s Rabbi Michael R. Zedek added: “I think we’re interesting, but not that interesting.”

Edwards and Zedek, and their congregants, may not be aware that their synagogues are not the first to be targeted by Islamic jihadists. Just two weeks ago, four converts to Islam, James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, were convicted of plotting to bomb two synagogues in Riverdale, New York, as well as use heat-seeking missiles to shoot down military planes at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York. 

That attack, like the bombs sent to Chicago from Yemen, was foiled. But jihadists succeeded in targeting Jews in Mumbai, India, in November 2008: when jihadists attacked numerous sites and murdered 173 people in the Mumbai jihad attacks, their primary target, according to information revealed later by a key surviving attacker, was Nariman House, a small Jewish center operated by Chabad. Journalist Somendra Sharma of India’s DNA (Daily News & Analysis) reported in January 2009 that “the terrorists themselves were in no doubt that Nariman House was the prime focus.” Jihad terrorist Mohammed Amir Iman Ajmal (a.k.a. Kasab), noted Sharma, “reportedly told the police they wanted to sent a message to Jews across the world by attacking the synagogue.”

 The Mumbai jihad plotters spent most of their planning time making sure that the murders at Nariman House would go off without a hitch. “The Nariman House operation has to be a success,” said Ajmal. Sharma added that according to Ajmal’s statements, “as far as Nariman House was concerned, there should not be even a minimal glitch in finding it and capturing it.” Another jihadist involved in this attack explained that he had been warned by operatives of the Pakistani jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous) “that Nariman House was their most secret operation and must not be compromised at any cost.”

The attempted Chicago bombings were thus the third time that jihadists have targeted synagogues. It has the looks of a new strategy: Islamic jihadists have decided to terrorize Jews in particular, in accord with the Koran’s denunciation of Jews as “strongest among men in enmity to the believers” (5:82). The Koran contains a great deal of material that forms the foundation for a hatred of Jews that has persisted throughout Islamic history. It portrays Jews as the craftiest, most persistent, and most implacable enemies of the Muslims. 

This Jew-hatred shows up even in ostensibly “moderate” Islamic forums. In 2004, Islam Online, a website founded by, among others, the internationally influential Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has won praise from Saudi-funded Islamic scholar John Esposito for engaging in a “reformist interpretation of Islam,” posted an article titled “Jews as Depicted in the Qur’an.” It depicts Jews in a chillingly negative light, illustrated with abundant quotations from the Koran. Among other charges, the article says that Jews “used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah”; “love to listen to lies”;  disobey Allah and ignore his commands; wish “evil for people” and try to “mislead them”; and “feel pain to see others in happiness and are gleeful when others are afflicted with a calamity.” It adds that “it is easy for them to slay people and kill innocents,” for “they are merciless and heartless.” And each charge is followed with numerous Koranic citations.

Now we are seeing what these beliefs mean in practice. Now jihadist groups, instead of (or perhaps in addition to) targeting economic, political, military and cultural landmarks, are going after ordinary Jews going about their business in ordinary places. It is a renewed call for all free people to stand with Jews and Israel, and for law enforcement authorities to offer them all possible special protection.

Is anyone in Washington listening? Or is Barack Obama too busy putting the finishing touches on his latest call to Israel to freeze settlement construction?