A 22-year-old resident of Bronx, New York has been charged with attempting to provide material support to Da’esh (ISIS) and for making a false statement on a passport application. The suspect, a native of Albania, was caught by undercover FBI agents.
He was indicted Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court.
Attorney Sylvie Levine told the court that Sajmir Alimehmeti, a plumbing assistant who has studied funeral services, was not dangerous. “In many ways he’s just like any other 22-year-old college-age student,” Levine said, according to the NY Daily News.
But Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein ordered the suspect held without bail, noting his “very strong ties” to his native Albania.
Undercover agents met with Alimehmeti in his Bronx apartment, where he explained that he played a “nasheed,” (music video) of ISIS terrorists decapitating prisoners to “keep him motivated while he is exercising.”
Neighbors told reporters they heard exercising and “weird sounds of things moving around.” The next door neighbor took deliveries for him for nearly a year – usually small packages – never realizing what they contained.
He was allegedly stockpiling weapons, including two steel spike knives, an Air Force survival knife, a ‘credit card sized folding knife” and a “24-inch survival pocket chain saw.” He also purchased a reversible face mask, handcuffs, and gloves with steel knuckles, according to court papers quoted by the NY Daily News.
Sometime within the past two years, Alimehmeti disappeared for a while and when he returned, he was dressed in traditional Muslim clothing. The once-friendly young neighbor began to keep to himself. But although he looked more religious, the local imam said he rarely showed up at the mosque for prayers.
The suspect also went by the nom de guerre of “Abdul Qawii.” He allegedly had jihad and martyrdom files on his computer, as well as a photo of himself with an ISIS flag in the background.
During one of their meetings, Alimehmeti was told by the undercover agent that a second man was already fighting in Syria, and shown pictures to this effect. This prompted the young suspect to ask the agent to “hook up with his connections.” When introduced to a third man, Alimehmeti said he had already saved $2,500 for his own travel, but still needed a passport. He also “needed to see someone” for a passport in a different name, because he was already “in the system,” NY Channel 7 Eyewitness News reported.
He and his brother “had our own plan” to travel from Albania to Raqqa, he said, but he brother had instead been arrested last year in Albania.
When the third man took a call from the passport “facilitator” the suspect asked whether he could “tell the (facilitator) about me, too.”
According to testimony by the agent to prosecutors, as reported by Channel 7, Alimehmeti then said in an excited voice, “I’m ready to go with you, man … you know I would … I’m done with this place. There are kuffar everywhere.” This indicated the suspect wanted to travel overseas to join ISIS, according to the agent. The suspect also wrote down his contact information for the third man to give to the “facilitator.”
Prosecutors told the court that Alimehmeti was denied entry into the UK twice in 2014, at Manchester and at Heathrow airports. The first time he was found to have camouflage and nunchucks in his luggage. The second time images of ISIS flags and IED (improvised explosive device) attacks were found on his laptop. Both times, he was sent back to the United States, and UK officials notified the FBI.
If convicted on the current charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
“The Princess Bride,” “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Homeland” star Mandy Patinkin, 63, was half an hour into his Lincoln Center benefit concert for the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Monday night, when a couple arrived to take their seats in the front row, the NY Post reported. To say that Patinkin did not take this with good humor would be like saying the Hindenburg became uncomfortably warm.
“Why are you late?” he barked at the two tardy ones. “You were sending an email? To who?”
The husband, bewildered, said he had been working with a client, which was Patinkin’s cue to go to work on the poor fellow. “This hurts me in my soul,” he said, quickly adding, “You know what would make me feel better? If you donated $25,000 right now.”
Last week, Patinkin told the Wall Street Journal, “I would absolutely say that singing Yiddish music is more powerful than anything else I sing and I can’t explain it because I didn’t grow up hearing it. It’s an unexplained mystery that I’m just thrilled and gratified for.”
Patinkin insisted that he had heard no Yiddish at home, so that loving Yiddish music for him is not nostalgic but a discovery. “I always make a joke that I was raised a Conservative Jew on Chicago’s South Side. If you’re a Conservative Jew in Chicago that makes you a Reform Jew in New York and an Orthodox Jew in California,” he told the WSJ.
Joseph Papp, founder of the Public Theater, introduced Patinkin to Yiddish songs. “He said, ‘You need to learn this music, it’s your job,’” Patinkin recalled. “I sing songs and he felt I needed to carry on this tradition.”
Despite his rage, the late couple did not reach for their checkbook, so, according to the Post, Patinkin ended up bargaining them down to a lighter sum (we dare not use the J word here). When someone in the cheap seats yelled at him to “let it go,” Patinkin responded, “I’m not letting it go! The Yiddish culture means too much to me. Every character I’ve ever played, I’ve played Jewish: Inigo Montoya? Jewish. Che Guevara? Jewish.”
“Except [Homeland’s tortured CIA operative] Saul Berenson,” he confessed, revealing “He’s Roman Catholic.”
He is not, of course.
Then another audience member pledged $5,000, and Patinkin said he would match it, and the show continued.
The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF — the last word in the title means “People’s Stage”), America’s preeminent Yiddish theatre, is the longest continuously-producing Yiddish theatre company in the world and the oldest consecutively-producing performing arts institution in the US.
Founded in 1915, NYTF continues its mission to preserve, promote and develop Yiddish theatre for current and future generations and to enhance the understanding of Yiddish culture as a vital component of Jewish Life. In fact, it is the sole survivor of fifteen Yiddish companies that played to enthusiastic audiences on the Lower East Side in the Golden Age of Yiddish Theatre in the early 20th century. Founded under the aegis of the Workmen’s Circle, the NYTF became an independent nonprofit in 1998.
The U.S. Pentagon is becoming concerned about the Da’esh (ISIS) terror group hacking activities after the terrorists posted a “hit list” online of 75 U.S. military staff it claims were involved in drone strikes in Syria.
A few days earlier, Da’esh posted the personal details online of more than 3,000 ordinary New Yorkers, along with various threats. The FBI is still visiting the 3,600 New Yorkers on the apparent “hit list” which was apparently intended to instill fear in the U.S. population, but said although people should use caution, there is no reason to be especially afraid.
The group urged its supporters to target those on the list, proclaiming “we want them #Dead.” Most are residents of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, although some live in Staten Island and other surrounding areas.
The Pentagon has expressed concern over the latest list, however: the group allegedly hacked and circulated online the names, home addresses and photographs of American military personnel, including some top staff members.
“Kill them wherever they are, knock on their doors and behead them, stab them, shoot them in the face or bomb them,” urged the ‘Islamic State Hacking Division.’
The hackers also allegedly have a possible mole in the British Ministry of Defense, according to a report in The Sunday Times. The group threatened to publish “secret intelligence” that could in future identify the Royal Air Force (RAF) drone operators.
The “hit list” was published under the ISIS flag, entitled ‘Target – United States Military,’ circulated via Twitter and posted on the JustPaste website.
But according to a report by PTI, the hackers may not have actually “hacked” their information, but rather were smart at researching the information. They “gleaned the names of Reaper and Predator drone operators from news articles and military newsletters, before matching them to addresses, photos and other personal details from publicly available sources on the internet,” the London-based site contends.
The document states: “You crusaders that can only attack the soldiers of the Islamic State with joysticks and consoles, die in your rage! Your military has no courage, neither has your president as he still refuses to send troops. So instead you press buttons thousands of miles away in your feeble attempt to fight us.
“A nation of cowards that holds no bravery as you resort to sending your remote-controlled unmanned Reaper and Predator drones to attack us from the skies. So this is for you, America. These 75 crusaders are posted as targets for our brothers and sisters in America and worldwide to hunt down and kill.”
“In our next leak we may even disclose secret intelligence the Islamic State has just received from a source the brothers in the UK have spent some time acquiring from the Ministry of Defence in London as we slowly and secretly infiltrate England and the USA online and off.”
The bottom of the document features a graphic of a beheaded Statue of Liberty.
Hillary and Bernie locked horns, clashed, yelled and smashed into each other almost literally last night in Brooklyn, NY. There were cheap shots and there were deep cuts. It can be safely said that the behavioral gap between the Democratic and Republican debates have narrowed significantly, so neither side can claim the high ground any longer. As to the portion of the debate in which we were most interested, US-Israeli relations, we must agree Hillary made us feel a little safer. Sanders started off from the point of view of B’Tselem and J Street, while Hillary at this point is a little to the right of J Street. After last night’s debate, if you’re a Democrat who cares about Israel, we advise you to buy an industrial size laundry clip, put it on your nose and vote for Bill’s wife. Not because we endorse her, we really really don’t, but she scares us a little less than Bernie does.
And now, to what they actually said last night about how they’d like to finally bring peace to the region…
Blitzer: Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”
What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?
Sanders: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.
But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.
Heckler: Free Palestine!
Sanders: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.
Sanders: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.
Sanders: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.
That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think…
Blitzer: … Thank you, Senator…
Sanders: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.
Blitzer: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?
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Clinton: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with…
Clinton: President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.
They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.
So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.
That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…
Blitzer: … Thank you…
Clinton: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.
Blitzer: Thank you, Senator, go ahead — go ahead, Senator.
Sanders: I don’t think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.
And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That’s not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?
I believe that it was, you have not answered that.
Clinton: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.
I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible. It would be great — remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.
Clinton: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.
So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.
Blitzer: Thank you, Secretary.
Sanders: I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech.
Sanders: So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long-term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.
That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that’s the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise.
Clinton: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.
There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.
I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.
Blitzer: A final word, Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.
Clinton: … you know, I have spoken about and written at some length the very candid conversations I’ve had with him and other Israeli leaders. Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right, but it is a difficult position.
If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge.
Blitzer: Senator, go ahead.
Sanders: You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing.
All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.
Former President Bill Clinton knows where the money – and the votes – are in New York City, and they are to be found in Harlem and in the Jewish sector.
When Clinton left the White House, he set up his Foundation office in Harlem but made sure to keep his ties fresh and firm with the Jewish sector as well.
On Monday, he took the policy a step farther as he stumped for his wife Hillary at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale, NY. Later in the day, he spoke at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Prospect Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn.
But first he met with elderly Jews in Riverdale.
Clinton was greeted by hundreds of residents at the high-end residence, which is home to more elderly than can be found in the entire population of some Jewish communities in Judea or Samaria. And most of them have healthy bank accounts. Nearly all of them vote.
The visit came a week before the pivotal New York primary elections on April 19. At stake are 291 Democratic delegates to be swept up either by Hillary Clinton or her rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
The former president, himself sporting some wrinkles these days, talked up Hillary’s desire to defend rights for senior citizens.
“She’s the best person I have ever known,” he told them. “Trying to lift the poor, protecting the defenseless and being a friend of Israel,” the NY Daily News reported.
Clinton spoke about Hillary’s experience as a secretary of state, her ability to protect Israel, her willingness to keep Social Security from collapsing and her competence in national security. To the residents of Hebrew Home for the Aged, those words score high.
“She was your senator and did a good job,” he reminded them. “She did a good job as secretary of state.”
Then he said something that probably was received with mixed reactions by those who still keep track of current affairs: “She negotiated the Iran deal.”
President Reuven Rivlin embraced the Reform and Conservative movements in a speech to the New York UJA-Federation on Friday during his visit to the United States.
Rivlin, like his predecessor Shimon Peres, is a full-fledged secular Israeli and is silently uncomfortable with the authority of the Orthodox Rabbinate in Israel.
Two days after lighting the Hanukkah Menorah at the White House, Rivlin stated at the meeting, which included Orthodox Jewish leaders:
It is important for the State of Israel to show full respect and sensitivity to all American Jews. It is important that we remember, not only on Hanukkah that we are all one family.”
All communities represented here today share the love of Israel and a deep commitment to the future of the Jewish people and to the positive image of the State of Israel.
We must never forget that even the major differences between us are an honest expression of concern shared by all of us, whether we are Orthodox, Reform or Conservative.
No one questions his generalities, but when it comes down to specifics, Orthodox Judaism inherently cannot accept American “Jews” who are converted under non-Orthodox rabbis who do not accept traditional Jewish law.
It could be compared with the idea that the American Medical Association would accept alternative medical practitioners as “doctors” even though they have not studied in recognized medical schools.
President Rivlin tried to reach out to the common interests of all Jews, such as the nearly universal Jewish celebration of Hanukkah and the solidarity for victims of terror “in Israel and all over the world.”
Conservative Jewish Rabbi Steven Wernick complained that we “can’t do marriage, can’t do divorces [and] can’t do conversions” in Israel.
President Rivlin did not dip into the dangerous political waters of explicitly promoting the Reform and Conservative agenda for “equality in Israel, but he made it a point to call Wernick a “rav,” Hebrew for rabbi.
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky has berated an Arab Knesset Member for scoring “cheap political points” by refusing to meet U.S. Jewish leaders in the same building that houses the Zionist group.
Joint Arab List MK Ayman Odeh on Thursday refused to enter a meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York, as reported here.
Sharansky’s spokesman issued a statement Saturday night saying:
It is unfortunate that members of Knesset from the Joint List are more interested in scoring cheap and expedient political points than they are in advancing the well-being of their communities.
Along with our core mission of ingathering the exiles of the Jewish people via Aliyah, The Jewish Agency is proud to serve all the citizens of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnicity, which we view as an integral part of our Zionist vision.
Thousands of Arab Israeli families enjoy a range of Jewish Agency programs, including our Youth Futures mentorship program, which has placed a particular emphasis on schoolchildren in Israel’s Arab community; Masa Israel Journey and Project TEN, which run programs focused on Arab-Jewish coexistence and on serving underprivileged Arab citizens of Israel; and an innovative Jewish Agency high school opened just this year for Bedouin youth in the Negev.
Sharansky added, “Thousands of Arab Israelis have already found their way to The Jewish Agency’s programs and to the dedicated professionals and volunteers who run them. It is high time MK Odeh and his colleagues did the same.”
Conference of Presidents Executive Vice President Malcolm Hoenlein came downstairs with MK Merav Michaeli to try to persuade Odeh to change his mind, which is a bit of an irony since Michaeli’s Labor party recently changed its official name to “Zionist Camp.”
Odeh later explained”
I came here to represent the Arab public in Israel to American audiences. As their representative, I cannot in good conscience participate in meetings in the offices of organizations whose work displaces Arab citizens, just as in the Knesset, we do not participate in the Ministry of Defense, the Foreign Ministry, and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.:
Conference of Presidents Chairman Stephen Greenberg and VP Hoenlein said in a statement that they are “deeply disturbed and shocked at [Odeh’s] refusal to fulfill his commitment to speak before a meeting of the Conference, because our premises are shared with the Jewish Agency, and other Zionist groups.”