It was yet another jihad plot against targets in the United States: the bombs, sent from Yemen via UPS, were powerful enough to bring down a cargo airplane. They were addressed to a synagogue in Chicago. Yemeni authorities arrested a twenty-two-year-old female computer engineering student, Hanan al-Samawi, whose telephone number appeared on one of the UPS forms, and then released her without charge after other students protested her arrest. Further investigations centered on language schools in Yemen, but as of Sunday evening there were no further arrests. That’s essentially all we know so far, but the plot in itself reveals a great deal about the nature of the jihad we’re facing.
First, the target: Rabbi Michael R. Zedek of Emanuel Congregation in Chicago said that he had been told that four bombs had been sent to synagogues in Chicago. Zedek had the impression that his Emanuel Congregation was not the jihadists’ specific target, but rather that they had meant to bomb Congregation Or Chadash, a gay-and-lesbian oriented synagogue sharing an address with Emanuel.
Rabbi Larry Edwards of Congregation Or Chadash was mystified as to how his synagogue ended up being targeted by Islamic jihadists in Yemen and, apparently, Egypt: someone there recently visited Emanuel Congregation’s website 83 times in a single day. “We’re rather puzzled,” Edwards said, “at how a little congregation like ours would get on the radar as a target for somebody. I’m hoping for more information.” Noting the numerous and suspicious website visits from Egypt, Zedek said: “I think we’re interesting, but not that interesting.”
Ah, but they are that interesting to Islamic jihadists. It is important in this connection to recall that the primary target in the November 2008 jihad attacks in Mumbai, in which jihadists murdered 173 people, the primary target was not Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel or the Cama Hospital, where some of the attacks occurred. Rather, it was Nariman House, a small Jewish center in Mumbai. Journalist Somendra Sharma of India’s DNA (Daily News & Analysis) reported in January 2009 that “the terrorists themselves were in no doubt that Nariman House was the prime focus.” Jihad terrorist Mohammed Amir Iman Ajmal (a.k.a. Kasab), noted Sharma, “reportedly told the police they wanted to sent a message to Jews across the world by attacking the synagogue.”
The Mumbai jihad plotters spent most of their planning time making sure that the murders at Nariman House would go off without a hitch. “The Nariman House operation has to be a success,” said Ajmal. Sharma added that according to Ajmal’s statements, “as far as Nariman House was concerned, there should not be even a minimal glitch in finding it and capturing it.” Another jihadist involved in this attack explained that he had been warned by operatives of the Pakistani jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous) “that Nariman House was their most secret operation and must not be compromised at any cost.”
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