Attacker of kosher Amsterdam restaurant fought in Syria

Man who attacked Amsterdam kosher restaurant while waving PLO flag is reportedly an ex-combatant in Syria’s civil war, Dutch site reports.

Ben Ariel ,

Flash 90

The man whom Dutch police released hours after he attacked a kosher restaurant while waving a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flag reportedly is a Damascus-born ex-combatant in Syria’s civil war, JTA reported Wednesday, citing the Dutch news site GeenStijl.

The site identified the perpetrator of the December 7 attack in southern Amsterdam as Saleh Ali, who has said that he participated in the war fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group.

Police knew this information when they released him several hours after two officers arrested him outside the restaurant, the report said. The officers and passers-by looked on as the perpetrator smashed several windows with a bat while staffers were inside. He then broke in, removed an Israeli flag and exited before the officers overpowered him.

The incident happened one day after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Since Trump’s declaration, two Jewish buildings in Sweden, including a synagogue, were targeted by arsonists using firebombs. Demonstrations featuring chants about killing Jews were held in the days that followed in The Hague, Vienna, Berlin and London. Calls glorifying Palestinian terrorists were heard at a rally Saturday in Paris.

The perpetrator of the restaurant attack, whose lawyer has denied that his client acted out of any anti-Semitic motives, was charged with vandalism and theft, according to De Telegraaf, with no mention in that paper’s reporting of an aggravated element of a hate crime. Thus he was released shortly after his arrest.

A spokesman for the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, a Hague-based watchdog on anti-Semitism, wrote on Facebook that it was “shocking” that the perpetrator was released in light of the information reported by GeenStijl.

Last year, a Jewish woman, Victoria Waniewicz, was stabbed in her back outside another Amsterdam kosher restaurant by a Brazilian man. Police said the attack was not a hate crime.

A judge later deemed the attacker unfit to stand trial because of insanity. He was later hospitalized in a psychiatric institution of his choosing for one year.

Also last year, a Dutch court reviewing a neighborly dispute ordered the eviction from her Amsterdam home of a Jewish woman whose neighbor had threatened to kill her and used anti-Semitic insults against her.