Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Terror strikes at Jerusalem's influential 'heart'

WHEN BULLDOZER DRIVER Ghasan Abu-Tir crashed his heavy-equipment machinery into cars along Jerusalem’s King David Street on Tuesday it was another reminder of the continued terror war plaguing the Middle East.
However, for this former Middle East bureau chief it also gave me a sinking feeling and my first thought was “this maniac is hitting close to “home.”
Although my passport reads Canadian, after living in Jerusalem, the ancient city has become my adopted “home.” And, of course, I am not alone in that passion; thousands have felt the same way as I do.
It’s impossible to shake that emotion and it grows stronger remembering the numerous walks to the Western wall; the lengthy talks with long-time residents of the Old City; the outspoken politicians; and the almost daily lunches on the patio of the YMCA, across from the venerable King David Hotel.
And, of course, the peaceful atmosphere within the King David – an oasis for world political and business leaders in discussing issues through the decades. It also was a place for a reporter to learn a few – very few -- diplomatic “secrets.”
However, it all changed along that posh street of expensive art, jewelry and elegance Tuesday when Abu-Tir battered cars, including a Mercedes, a city bus and caused a reported 18 to 24 injuries.
Only three weeks ago a Palestinian man also boarded a heavy-equipment machine in another part of Jerusalem and before he was shot dead, three Israelis had been killed. A BBC correspondent apparently thought the operator was a disturbed individual without any political connections.
However, the latest incident in which Abu-Tir was killed by settler and IDF Company Commander (res.) Yaki Asael and Border Guard officer Amal Ganem, may have significant sinister overtones.
There have been numerous pieces to the puzzle. At the same time as Tuesday’s bulldozer incident, Israeli President Shimon Peres was meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at Peres’ Jerusalem residence. In addition, the incident occurred only seven hours prior to U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama arriving at the King David as well as former British prime minister Tony Blair.
And just who was most recent perpetrator?
At first, there were news reports identifying him as East Jerusalem resident Abu-Tir, a relative of Mohammed Abu-Tir, who has been in an Israeli jail from the 2006 Israel-Gaza conflict. Then there was a news blackout, forcing the Israeli news outlets to identify Mohammed Abu-Tir as only a relative with an orange beard.
Of course, the bearded Abu-Tir could have influenced the 22-year-old “relative,” although the news outlets will probably be prevented to expand on that assumption in the coming days.
In April 2006, I detailed the dangers of such a villain, in this manner:
“Muhammed Abu-Tir looks like a buffoon. After all who would colour their beard bright orange?
Well, he did, and he’s proud of it, patterning himself after the prophet, Muhammed.
However, this No. 2 Hamas terrorist is no crazy loon even though he spent a quarter of a century in a cell and apparently once tried to poison Israel’s water supplies. Fortunately, he failed in the 1990s.
So why mention him?
Well, for the past few days, Abu-Tir has been heard on North American radio – 230 stations, which feature the outstanding host Rusty Humphries.
And what did Abu-Tir discuss?
He railed about Jews, who had converted to Christianity, in order to influence U.S. President George W. Bush.
“I made a study and I know very well all this radicalism in some parts of Christianity (including) the Anglicans, who are being led by Bush, is because of the control of the Zionists.”
This kind of rhetoric might fill air time, but it is scary, nevertheless.
And might be a foreboding of calamities to come, particularly when a terrorist has entered another realm – the religious one.
Will it be Christianity and Judaism vs. Islam?
After 9-11 and the destruction of the Twin Towers in Manhattan, North Americans have become extremely complacent as to the dangers posed by terrorists such as Abu-Tir.
This couldn’t happen again, could it?
However, after being based in Jerusalem, and seeing the atrocities that such warped individuals can design, it could and will happen again.
Now, such thinking as Abu-Tir has been spouting about leads me to believe the next target will not be the hi-rises of some American and Canadian city, but the obliteration of your local church or synagogue.
A nerve-jangling thought. But it could happen, for the Hamas, Al-Qaeda and their ilk know this is not about economics … It is a war to death between the Judeo-Christian faith and radical Muslims.
Despite the rhetoric of the politicians, it has always been about religion and Abu-Tir’s ridiculous claim that “U.S. churches are secretly run by Jews, who converted to Christianity” completely baffles me.”
Was Ghasan Abu-Tir’s bulldozer attack on an affluent Jerusalem area on Tuesday just a random act or did a orange-bearded Hamas leader influence his “relative” to become involved in such bizarre (and fatal) behaviour?


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