- NY Times: Queens Man Pleads Guilty in Plot to Blow Up Manhattan Synagogue
- NY Post: Synagogue bomb plotter gets 10 years after pleading guilty
- NY Post Editorial: The NYPD’s lesson for the FBI
- NY Daily News: Queens man pleads guilty to plotting to blow up synagogues
- Wall Street Journal: Guilty Plea in Terror Case
- Times of Israel (AP): NYC synagogue bomb plotter pleads guilty, faces 10-year sentence and deportation
- Manhattan DA Cyrus W. Vance, Jr.:Ahmed Ferhani Pleads Guilty to Terror Charges for 2011 Plot to Blow up Manhattan Synagogues and Churches
- Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly: “My congratulations to District Attorney Vance for successfully prosecuting this important case. He rose to the occasion in making sure Ahmed Ferhani received significant jail time for plotting to kill New Yorkers as they worshiped. In his allocution, Ferhani made clear – as our Intelligence Division detectives documented – that he intended to attack congregants in a Manhattan synagogue with a hand grenade and gunfire, for the purpose of intimidating and coercing the Jewish population of New York City.”
Office of the Chief of Community Affairs
Informational: The High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah is translated as “head of the year” and is the beginning of the Jewish New Year. This is considered to be a time of devotion and prayer to the Almighty to decree a long, spiritually enriching life, as well as good health and prosperity to all. Rosh Hashanah will be observed this year from sunset, Sunday, September 16th through sundown, Tuesday, September 18th. During this time period, the Jewish religion strictly prohibits many common day activities such as going to work, writing, turning lights on or off, riding in a car, carrying a cell phone and other items such as a driver’s license and credit cards and touching money.
There will be an increase of foot traffic in Jewish neighborhoods during these days as family and friends are commonly invited to others to participate in festive meals. The manner of dress for males during Rosh Hashanah may include a black hat, a long black coat (even in hot weather), and a white prayer shawl with strings attached to the corners. Females may wear expensive jewelry and will be traditionally dressed in clothing of a modest nature.
Synagogues will have prayer services three times each day. Special attention should be given to every synagogue, especially during times of prayer service. Because prayer service times vary with each different congregation, it is important to be in contact with clergy liaisons and other community leaders in order to determine prayer service times for each individual synagogue.
September 12, 2012
Today’s headlines from Libya and Egypt, where American embassies were attacked, suggest a need for increased vigilance in advance of and during the High Holidays. The murder of the American Ambassador to Libya and three of his colleagues in Benghazi may have been planned as revenge for the recent killing of a high-ranking al-Qaeda leader and timed to coincide with the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. There have also been reports of protests in both Benghazi and Cairo responding to a virulently anti-Muslim video, “Innocence of Muslims,” being promoted on YouTube. The trailer for this video portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a child-molester, and homosexual and a philanderer, and some stories are linking the video to an Israeli-American. Regardless of what triggered the anti-American violence in Libya and Egypt, and who produced the highly offensive video (about which questions are still circulating), the timing of these events and the possibility that they may incite others to violence prompts us to recommend extra precautions.
It is important to emphasize that ADL does not currently have any information regarding a specific threat to any Jewish institution. Nevertheless, we recommend the following action steps – including specific priorities for the high holidays.
- Keep your eyes and ears open for anything unusual or suspicious and call law enforcement immediately if you come across something. Unusual behavior, unwarranted interest in your facility (including unusual traffic patterns), suspicious or unattended packages and strange devices should be promptly reported to the police or security personnel. Advise staff and volunteers to do the same. See ADL’s Guide to Detecting Surveillance of Jewish Institutions.
- Ensure that staff members, including newly hired personnel, and all volunteers know what to do in the event of an emergency.
- Review and practice security procedures. In particular, review with all personnel their role in security. Ensure that your institution’s rules and procedures dealing with who gets into your facility are sufficient and enforced (access control).
- Make sure to use the security devices you have in place and that access controls are being used properly. For example, ensure that communications equipment and video cameras are working and properly used.
- Renew/establish relationships with local law enforcement and discuss security. If you have not established personal relationships with key police personnel, set up a meeting to do so.
- Trust your instincts. If something strikes you as being out of place or problematic, call law enforcement immediately.
For the High Holidays:
- Advise local law enforcement of High Holy Day schedules and special events. In particular, communicate with the police commander of the jurisdiction in which your institution is located.
- Ensure that ushers understand that they play a critical role in security matters (even where there is security staff), as they are often used to control access to the sanctuary and are in a position to spot trouble early.
- Ensure that ushers are familiar with suspicious activity indicators, and encourage them to promptly report anything suspicious to the police or security personnel. Review ADL’s Guide to Detecting Surveillance of Jewish Institutions.
- Establish procedures for keeping people out of your institution who do not belong. It is important to establish policies and procedures well ahead of time so that ushers and others who are reacting to developing situations know how to respond according to pre-determined rules.
- If your institution has hired a police officer or security guard, provide them with specific instructions and identify someone to be their primary contact if they have questions (such as an usher captain).
- Encourage staff, leadership, and constituents to trust their instincts if they come across someone or something suspicious.
- Pre-event publicity for upcoming events should be reviewed in light of security. Potential gains in audience numbers must be weighed against the security concerns created through different types of publicity.
You may refer to ADL’s security manual, Protecting Your Institution, for additional information at ADL’s security website: www.adl.org/security.
Please do not hesitate to contact this office with questions or for further assistance.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the shootings in Colorado. The greatest horror is the realization that such incidents are all-too-easy to commit. How should organizations plan to protect their students, staff, congregants and others?
Recommendations (scroll down for resources)
There are no perfect solutions, but planning and training can mitigate active shooter incidents. The first step is maintaining good access control. Keeping someone who wants to do harm outside is the best way of protecting those inside.
- Evacuate: Building occupants should evacuate the facility if safe to do so; evacuees should leave behind their belongings, visualize their entire escape route before beginning to move, and avoid using elevators or escalators.
- Hide: If evacuating the facility is not possible, building occupants should hide in a secure area (preferably a designated shelter location), lock the door, blockade the door with heavy furniture, cover all windows, turn off all lights, silence any electronic devices, lie on the floor, and remain silent.
- Take Action: If neither evacuating the facility nor seeking shelter is possible, building occupants should attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by throwing objects, using aggressive force, and yelling.
- Other considerations?
- Train building occupants to call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Train building occupants on how to respond when law enforcement arrives on scene.
- follow all official instructions, remain calm, keep hands empty and visible at all times, and avoid making sudden or alarming movements.
Summer camps bring special challenges, especially when the campers are young. Planning and training may be even more critical, but the general guidance remains:
- Evacuate. Staff should know your plan and be able to evacuate to a safer area, if possible. It will be difficult to run with groups of young children.
- Hide. Summer camp structures are rarely constructed in a way to withstand an attack by a determined intruder and they rarely have heavy furniture that might be used to blockade a door. If no secure structure is available, consider designating scattered, but assigned, assembly points for each small camper group. By making an intruder search for victims (over many acres of campgrounds) this tactic buys some of the time necessary for help to respond. Staff should be prepared with “quiet activities” alternatives. This is a situation when good communication can be the difference between life and death.
- Take action. The actions available in summer camps are dependent on the ages and abilities of the groups involved.
- Active Shooter: Recommendations and Analysis for Risk Mitigation (NYPD)
- Active Shooter: How to Respond with the companion pocket card and the poster (DHS)
- Active Shooter Awareness Virtual Roundtable (DHS video)
Mitchell D. Silber (Director, Intelligence Analysis, NYPD Intelligence Division) reviewed recent New York-based plots by Al Qaeda-inspired and self-radicalized individuals, such as the May 2011 plot by Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh to detonate bombs at Manhattan synagogues and the case of Jose Pimentel, AKA Muhammad Yusuf, who was arrested last November as he constructed bombs that he intended to use against post offices and police cars in New York. Silber also discussed the roles of Hezbollah and Iran in attacks on Israeli targets overseas and provided information about a plot last month targeting synagogues in Milan, and the recent attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France in which four were killed.. View his presentation here.
Jerusalem Post: Gunman opens fire outside Ozar Hatorah school before fleeing the scene on scooter; teacher and two of his children among dead, several wounded; Jewish official: This was an anti-Semitic attack.
JTA: A man riding a motorbike reportedly opened fire outside the Ozar Hatorah School, where students were waiting to enter the building at the start of the school day. The shooter then entered the building shooting at students and teachers. He then fled on his motorbike.
Haaretz: French prosecutor Michel Valet said Monday that those killed were a 30-year-old man and his 3-year-old and 6-year-old sons. He said another child, between 8 and 10 years old, was also killed, and a 17-year-old seriously wounded.
See also Jerusalem Post: “… a coalition of jihadist organizations have made a decision to attack Israeli and Jewish targets wherever they may be without distinction. “They attack whoever they can and wherever security is lax”.
- Access control. Until we know more, schools should consider asking students and staff to come inside the building rather than assembling outside. Our standard recommendation that no unauthorized person should be allowed to enter a Jewish institution (see our sample access control procedures here).
- Secure doors. Many organizations are thinking about their Nonprofit Security Grant applications. This tragic attack reminds us about the importance of high impact doors that can withstand an attack from a determined intruder.
- Lockdowns. Do you have a plan to “lockdown” your building and its occupants to keep them safe in the event on an active shooter? See the JCRC Active Shooter Page.
- Security awareness. Although there is no indication of any threat here in New York, it is a time for heightened awareness. Trust your instincts. If you see something…say something. Terrorist acts and other attacks are often preceded by active surveillance of a target location; learn how to detect hostile surveillance before an incident occurs. See tips from our partners at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.