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West Hempstead, April 17 – Congregants at a Jewish house of worship in this Long Island hamlet suspected something amiss this past Saturday morning when a group of attendees violated established custom by arriving exactly at the announced time for services, instead of sometime in the forty or fifty minutes afterwards, and several congregants alerted law enforcement in time to arrest the four men – who turned out to be agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intent on attacking Jewish targets worldwide.

Three passers-by on the way to a different synagogue alerted Nassau County Police Department to the quartet of men arriving exactly on time to the “main minyan” services at the Young Israel of West Hempstead, which officially begin at 8:45 each Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath – in suspicious departure from the familiar Jewish routine of never coming on time to services. Police arrived within fifteen minutes to question and apprehended the men. Subsequent inquiries revealed that the four had been recruited by Iran’s chief terrorism arm and were scouting the synagogue for purposes of perpetrating either a bombing or shooting attack sometime next month.


“The vigilance of several citizens prevented a tragedy and heinous crime,” declared Police Department spokesman Lt. Tom Garcetti. “Our interrogations, investigation, and consultation with the FBI have determined that these men, two from Pakistan and two from Turkey, were operating on instructions from Tehran to target Jewish institutions and communities. We know from bitter experience in Argentina, Bulgaria, and elsewhere, that the IRGC and its proxies continuously try to harm Jews, with the pretext of opposing Israel. The West Hempstead Jewish community is a crucial part of this area’s unique human beauty and strength, and that, apparently, is what Iran saw as an inviting target.”

Congregants expressed both relief and disbelief. “I feel like divine intervention was instrumental here,” acknowledged YIWH Rabbi Josh Goller. “Not everyone is perceptive enough to notice the aberration of people arriving at the ‘wrong’ time, and what that might mean. I’m grateful to the helpful people who were alert enough to say something, to the police for their swift response, and to the Almighty for His protection.”

One of the people who called the police – he spoke on condition of anonymity – volunteers as a paramedic and therefore carries a phone with him even on the Sabbath, when Jewish law ordinarily forbids it, because lifesaving activity trumps the Sabbath. At 8:45 that morning he was on his way to an 8:45 service at Congregation Anshei Shalom, further north on Hempstead Avenue, and spotted the four men entering the Young Israel building.

“I checked my watch to make sure I wasn’t mistaken,” recalled the man, “because I didn’t want to be later than necessary. And something didn’t compute. Everyone knows you don’t just show up at the announced time. A little earlier, maybe, if you’re an old guy with no life, or maybe the gabbai, but no one else comes until at least nine, maybe a couple of minutes to. Something was clearly wrong.”


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