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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘investigation’

Police Say Commander Was Bribed by ‘Businessmen’s Rabbi’

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

An Israeli court this morning released for publication the news that the police Internal Affairs unit, known here as Dept. of Policemen Investigation, is looking into suspicions that Commander Menashe Arviv, appointed only last September chief of the prestigious anti-organized crime Lahav 433 unit – was bribed.

According to Yedioth, one of my favorite foundations of Israel’s democracy, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, congratulated Arviv on his appointment, saying: “I ask of you to treat them with force, it is a mitzvah to do so. In this war there is only one winner, and that is the police.”

He probably shouldn’t have mentioned the mitzvah thing, because, next thing you know, Arviv is being accused of being bribed by receiving favors from sources close to Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, a cabalist from a long line of miracle workers, also know as “a rabbi to the rich and famous.”

At this point there’s still a court gag order on the nature of the favors the crime fighter received from the mystic, but we’ve been led to understand the latter has turned state’s evidence in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

I’m not saying that’s what happened, but the idea of a meeting between a wired cabalist and a straying police commander is the stuff Hollywood movies are made of.

Commander Arviv, who is yet to be interrogated, met yesterday with Commissioner Yohanan Danino—one of the original founders of Lahav 433—and informed him he was taking a much needed vacation. He also told anyone who would listen that this is a libel, which the coming investigation would surely prove.

Except that it doesn’t look like anyone is doing a big investigation, seeing as Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, another great democrat, simply got one of the two suspects in the stinky affair to admit he did it together with the other—in exchange for walking away scot-free. The narrative is already in place, then, and the cops are now only searching for corroborating evidence. Unless he gets a really sharp lawyer, it looks like Arviv is done for.

But there’s more to the case than favors from one rabbi to his policeman. Israel’s Forbes richest rabbis list quotes Rabbi Pinto’s wealth at $21-million, give or take. according to press reports, Pinto is connected to the leaders of NY City’s real estate industry, including, most notably, executives in Metropolitan Real Estate Investors and Prudential Douglas Elliman. His devoted followers include Jay Schottenstein, chairman of the American Eagle Outfitters clothing company, real-estate mogul Jacky Ben-Zaken, 5W Public Relations owner Ronn Torossian, Congressman Michael Gerard Grimm (R, Staten Island), and even basketball player LeBron James of the Miami Heat.

And, until his fortunes changed so radically, former Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Rabbi Pinto is a deal maker, an influence-peddler, admired by people with staggering amounts of money as “something between a guru and a Chasidic rebbe,” and useful to all of them in more than just spiritual advice.

All of the above is not what one would normally expect from a rabbi, but Pinto is no ordinary rabbi, and, as long as he continues to do good in the world—he has founded yeshivas and is supporting several others, as part of a global movement called Mosdot Shuva Israel—he shouldn’t have to apologize for knowing wealthy people.

Food preparation at a soup kitchen run by Rabbi Pinto's charity in Ashdod. Photo by Yaakov Naumi/Flash90.

Food preparation at a soup kitchen run by Rabbi Pinto’s charity in Ashdod. Photo by Yaakov Naumi/Flash90.

But there are cracks in that picture, through which we see flashes of the good rabbi’s skirting the line between what’s legal and what’s suspect.

Minister Steinitz: Intelligence Says Assad Army Used Chemical Weapons

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Minister of International Relations and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz told Kol Israel Thursday morning that Israel’s Intelligence service estimates that the Assad army indeed attacked its own civilians using chemical weapons, adding that it was not the first time the Syrian army has done this.

Steinitz said the worldwide condemnation of Assad’s war crimes have been mere lip service, since no concrete steps have so far been taken to stop Assad’s ongoing massacre of his countrymen.

The minister called the UN inspection just begun in Syria “a joke.”

“The UN isn’t inspecting yesterday’s events, but events that took place half a year ago. Moreover, the designation of the investigation, to find out whether or not chemical weapons were used—without investigating who used them—is outright ridiculous,” the minister said.

Last night, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did call for an investigation of Wednesday’s gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus, where as many as 1,300 people are said to have been killed. It is not clear, however, if his call is heeded by the Security Council.

Labor MK Benjamin Ben Eliezer, who is considered a leading candidate to become the next president of Israel, said that what goes on in Syria is nothing less than a holocaust and a genocide, and the world—which condemns Israel for every tiny misstep—is standing by without doing anything.

Ben Eliezer emphasized that the red line drawn by President Obama has long since been crossed, and that Israel must remain on alert to prevent any of the Syrian chemical weapons from falling into Hezbollah or al-Qaeda hands.

The Syrian government is denying any involvement in the attack, accusing the rebels of staging a propaganda ploy. And Assad’s traditional patron, Russia, is not flinching in its unabashed defense of its man.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Wednesday that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition, Reuters reported.

“All this cannot but suggest that once again we are dealing with a pre-planned provocation,” Lukashevich said. “This is supported by the fact that the criminal act was committed near Damascus at the very moment when a mission of UN experts had successfully started their work of investigating allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons there.”

Thirty-five member countries have called for the UN inspection team which has just arrived in Damascus to be allowed to investigate the newest attack.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said, “This represents, no matter what the consequences are, a serious escalation with grave humanitarian consequences and human consequences. We very much hope that we will be able to conduct the investigation. Dr. Sellstrom and his team are in place in Damascus. We hope that they will be given access to the area by the government.”

The UN Security Council met in an emergency session over the incident, with protesters demonstrating outside its headquarters. When it ended, Argentina’s UN ambassador, Maria Cristina Perceval, told reporters: “There is a strong concern among council members about the allegations and a general sense that there must be clarity on what happened and the situation must be followed closely after a closed-door emergency meeting of the council.”

Which means the council is not explicitly calling the inspection team to investigate, it only welcomed Ban Ki-moon’s calls for one.

“The members of the Security Council also welcomed the determination of the Secretary-General to ensure a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation,” said Perceval, who is president of the council this month.

In other words, Russia said Nyet, and the new incident will remain outside the purview of the inspectors.

Head of Met Council Steps Down, Apologizes for Mistakes

Monday, August 12th, 2013

William E. Rapfogel, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council) since 1992, has been fired from his job and is under investigation for alleged financial wrongdoing, the NY Times reported.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, and comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, are now investigating Mr. Rapfogel as part of a new anti-corruption task force.

In a statement released by his lawyer, Rapfogel apologized for unspecified mistakes.

“After 21 years at the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, I deeply regret the mistakes I have made that have led to my departure from the organization,” he said. “I apologize to our dedicated officers and board, our incredible staff and those who depend on Met Council. I let them all down.”

Rapfogel also said: “I pray that my family and friends and all who care about Met Council can find it in their heart to forgive me for my actions. I will do everything possible to make amends.”

Met Council released the following statement:

“The Board of Directors of Met Council recently became aware of specific information regarding financial irregularities and apparent misconduct in connection with the organization’s insurance policies. The Board retained outside counsel to conduct a full investigation. Based on that investigation, which is ongoing, the Board has terminated Mr. Rapfogel, effective immediately, and notified the proper authority. To date, the investigation has not revealed evidence that any current employees of Met Council engaged in any wrongdoing.

“The Board takes these matters very seriously. For over forty years, Met Council has been a respected leader as one of New York City’s largest human services agencies, providing assistance to over 100,000 New Yorkers each year in their fight against poverty. The Board is committed to ensuring Met Council’s operations are conducted with integrity and that they uphold our highest values.

“The Board has embarked upon a search to identify a new CEO and will work diligently to appoint a replacement as quickly as possible. In the meantime, there should be no disruption to Met Council’s day-to-day operations. The Board has the utmost confidence in the talent and dedication of the current executive staff, which will continue to manage the organization’s various programs that provide food, shelter and care to thousands of New Yorkers in need.”

In 2011, the Met Council paid Mr. Rapfogel $340,089 in direct compensation, plus $77,202 in “other compensation,” according to a tax document filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the Times reported.

Finding the Culprit: The Race to be Wrong

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Someone tweeted yesterday that “the race to be wrong first has begun in earnest.” And that is so — we’ve seen wild media reports that there were 12 people killed (so far there are 3, with about 150 injured), that two Saudi nationals were in custody (the police talked to a Saudi student who was injured in the bombing), and more. But there are some things that are known and can serve as a basis for speculation.

First, the bombs were in backpacks placed against buildings behind the spectators on the sidewalk, and most of the victims were on the sidewalk. So the intent was to kill and injure as many people as possible, at random.

Second, the bombs were homemade using non-military explosives, built into pressure cookers. They contained ball bearings and possibly other items in order to increase their effectiveness as anti-personnel weapons. They were detonated by either a timer or a remote control device, which could have been a cellphone or other radio receiver.

The authorities will pick up every fragment they can, examine explosive residue to determine how it was made, look for parts of the control device, etc. Then they will deploy the huge amount of manpower at their disposal to try to determine where the pressure cookers and backpacks were purchased, as well as the control devices and the chemicals used to make the explosives.

They will look at the massive quantity of security camera video, photos and videos made by spectators, news footage, etc. to try to spot whoever placed the bombs. They will check hundreds, maybe thousands of leads that they will be given by witnesses.

They will consider Islamic terrorism, right- and left-wing anti-government terrorism, and terrorism by mentally disturbed individuals. They will consider terrorist organizations here and abroad and they will consider “lone-wolf” operations.

Rather than too little evidence, there will be too much. It will take time, but I think they will be successful.

So what do I think they will discover?

Does the viciously random nature of the bombing give a clue to the motive? It was directed at people, including children, who would be expected to be among the spectators. Most terrorists pick targets that embody or symbolize their enemies, as Timothy McVeigh chose the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Anti-government terrorists often see themselves as champions of “the people,” and would be unlikely to want to randomly kill ordinary citizens (McVeigh claimed that he was not aware of the day care center in the Murrah building).

Ted Kacyznski, the Unabomber, targeted universities, airlines, etc., symbols of the technology that he hated. Even George Metesky, the Mad Bomber of Manhattan, placed devices in public places only after his attempts to draw attention to his grievance against Consolidated Edison by bombing its installations was ignored.

On the other, hand, anti-government terrorist Eric Rudolph, who bombed the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics, did so to protest abortion and the “homosexual agenda.” Rudolph also bombed abortion clinics and a lesbian bar, but it would have been difficult to deduce his motives from the Olympics bombing alone.

Islamic terrorists often (but not always) perpetrate acts of terrorism aimed at the U.S. in general and its people. Examples include the Times Square bombing attempt, the two World Trade Center bombings, attempted bombings of the Sears Tower, airports, etc. In Israel, of course, mass murder attempts are frequent. The common factor is that the Islamic terrorist sees his enemy as the nation as a whole, and public institutions or citizens as legitimate targets.

Al- Qaeda’s Inspire magazine, which tells how to “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

What about the bombs? The pressure cooker bomb was described in a DHS bulletin as “[a] technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps.” A description of such a bomb also appeared in al-Qaeda’s English-language “Inspire” magazine. The use of pressure cookers for bombs dates back at least to 2001, so it is certainly possible that the technique is widely known.

All We Know for Sure is that Boston Will Rise

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

It’s too much to say we don’t know squat yet about the bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday, but it’s still pretty close.

It was clarified at the press conference yesterday with government officials that there were no additional unexploded devices found near the finish line of the marathon.  The only devices known about so far are the two that exploded, 13 seconds apart, just before 3:00 PM EDT.

The officials were did not expand on the visit of law enforcement to the apartment building in Revere, M.A. late last night.  We already knew that the young Saudi national who was being questioned yesterday was determined to have nothing to do with the bombing. (He is reportedly no longer a focus of investigation).

According to television reports, explosives were made using pressure cookers loaded with ball bearings.  Fox’s Catherine Herridge spoke about the use of triacetone peroxide (TATP) as the explosive agent. The character of the explosions was consistent with TATP.  These readily available materials don’t tell us much right now about who might have been responsible.  They may in the coming days, if the point of sale or commercial manufacturer can be established.

The bombs were effective, which is something.  But a quick search of the internet turns up multiple sites offering general information on what it takes to put together a TATP device.  The bomb’s characteristics don’t automatically finger anyone or rule out any particular group.

The FBI and Boston Police have disclosed nothing about the ongoing investigation, which is understandable.  As far as we know, no one has taken credit for the attack, and we don’t know of any prior warnings that were issued about it (e.g., like bomber Eric Rudolph’s call to police before his bomb went off at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996, killing one woman, leading to the death of a man from a heart attack, and injuring 111).

So we simply don’t know, and can’t guess right now, who did this.  We can say that the bombing was relatively small in scope.  The explosions were horrific for those in their immediate vicinity, but the bombs were not big ones, and there were only two.  With each hour that passes, it becomes more evident that there is no larger plot requiring a group of terrorists of significant size.

Based on what we know so far, the overall nature of the attack is most similar to Eric Rudolph’s in Atlanta in 1996.  That doesn’t tell us much, given all the things we don’t know yet.  But we can say some things for certain, such as that this was not an attack on a government facility, like the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, nor (contra MSNBC hysteric Chris Matthews) was it mounted on April 19th – the actual date of the OKC bombing and the Waco compound assault. (The mass shooting at Columbine high school was on 20 April 1999).

Certainly, the size of the bombs in Boston was nothing like that of the bomb used by Timothy McVeigh to kill 168 people and injure hundreds more, completely destroying the Murrah Federal Building in the process.  McVeigh’s bomb had an explosive effect more powerful than the 2,000-pound warheads used by the U.S. Air Force and Navy.  It had to be transported to the Murrah Building in downtown Oklahoma City in a moving van.

The smaller-bombing M.O. doesn’t rule out Islamist radicals either.  Faizal Shahad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who had trained with terrorists in Pakistan, tried to detonate a single car bomb in Times Square on 1 May 2010.  As with the Atlanta bombing and the Boston Marathon attack, Shahad was targeting an area with a lot of people in it: going for mass casualties rather than attacking particular buildings.  The list of known foiled attacks in the U.S. since 9/11 indicates that Islamist cells plan attacks in different sizes.  They aren’t all envisioned as huge attacks that will bring buildings down.

See hereherehere, and here for the associations of Hezbollah as well as Al Qaeda in the New York and Boston areas.  If it turned out to be the work of Islamist radicals, this bombing would probably have been launched by fewer than a handful in a loosely connected cell, rather than as a coordinated operation overseen by terror-group leadership.

One possibility, of course, is that the bomber(s) don’t live in the Boston area, and may not even live in New England.  Getting the two relatively small bombs to the attack site would not have required living quarters in the vicinity, or other preparations more traceable than the apparent placement of the bombs in trash cans as recorded on CCTV cameras.  It would have been quite possible to ride the trains and/or buses to the attack site, and disappear quietly after detonating the bombs.  (Doing it this way would have required more than one person, in my judgment – at least while riding the public transportation.)

Where to look for a terrorist who has this in mind, and doesn’t plan to take credit for political purposes, is not clear.  The M.O. would be somewhat reminiscent of McVeigh, however, who sought to hide out after the Oklahoma City attack.

There is much that is similar to others in any given bombing attack.  It is not obvious that any group or type of person in particular mounted this one, nor can any be ruled out.  The law-enforcement authorities have their work cut out for them.

(An aside: an official at Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday credited training done two years ago with Israelis for their preparedness to deal with the casualties flooding the hospital after the bombing.  Law enforcement officials would probably benefit from consulting with the Israelis on their manhunt for the bomber(s).)

In the meantime, our hearts go out to the victims and their families, including the family of little Martin Richard, who at eight years old has so far been the youngest fatality.

We can pray that the doctors and nurses will continue to be fit and energetic as they deal with the awful gore and human pain dealt out by this attack.  I saw a comment on Twitter stating that this attack is a reminder of how important the “injuries” are from such an event, even when the death toll seems small.  So many people will have to finish their lives without the limbs we all rely on for simple normality.  Some were fortunate to have received only superficial wounds; too many will see their lives changed forever by what they have lost.  May God’s grace enfold them all.

But Boston will rise.  Rise to the occasion, rise above the pain and loss, rise beyond where she was 24 hours ago, peaceful under the cool spring sun, enjoying Patriots Day, and waiting for the last runners to get to the finish line.

Originally published at The Optimistic Conservative.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/all-we-know-for-sure-is-that-boston-will-rise/2013/04/17/

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