New York Hanukkah machete attack suspect to face federal hate crime charges

(Reuters) – The man accused of stabbing at least five people in a machete rampage at the home of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah celebration is due to face federal hate crime charges in White Plains, New York, on Monday.

A federal grand jury indicted Grafton Thomas, 37, late last week with additional counts of hate crimes for the Dec. 28 stabbing of members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey, New York, bringing the number of federal charges he faces to 10.

Each count carries a maximum prison term of life.

One of the victims, a 72-year-old man who suffered devastating machete blows to his head, arm and neck, is comatose and unlikely to recover, according to family members.

Federal prosecutors have said Thomas targeted his victims because of their Jewish faith. In a criminal complaint filed last month, they cited journals they seized from the suspect’s home containing references to Adolf Hitler, Nazi culture and the Black Hebrew Israelites movement, identified by experts in extremism as an anti-Jewish hate group.

Thomas also faces state charges for the attack, which his attorney, pointing to his client’s long history of mental illness, has said was likely an expression of psychosis rather than bigotry.

The attack in Monsey capped a string of incidents in which Jews have been physically attacked or accosted in the New York metropolitan area in recent weeks, including a shooting at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey that left two members of the Hasidic community dead.

One of the suspects in that attack had also expressed interest in the Black Hebrew Israelites. He died in the attack.

The most recent national numbers from Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism found 780 anti-Semitic incidents reported to or detected by the organization in the United States in the first half of 2019, compared to 785 incidents reported for the same period in 2018.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Editing by Scott Malone and Tom Brown)

Stabbed Brazilian front-runner Bolsonaro needs more surgery -hospital

FILE PHOTO: Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro reacts after being stabbed during a rally in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais state, Brazil September 6, 2018.REUTERS/Raysa Campos Leite

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s front-running far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is still in serious condition in intensive care and will need to undergo another major surgery, the hospital where he is being treated said in a written statement on Monday.

Bolsonaro, 63, was stabbed at a campaign rally on Thursday in an assassination attempt that plunged the presidential race into further confusion as it appears unlikely he will be able to resume campaigning before the Oct. 7 vote.

The medical bulletin issued by the Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo contrasted with the upbeat report on Sunday that said Bolsonaro’s health had improved markedly and that he had walked for a few minutes but was still receiving food intravenously.

The new report said his condition was still serious and he would need additional surgery since he has a colostomy bag that needs to be removed and the intestine perforated by the stabbing repaired.

There are no signs of infection, the bulletin added.

The knife attack against Bolsonaro further complicated the most unpredictable election in three decades, with Brazil’s most popular politician, jailed former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, banned from running due to a corruption conviction but keeping up a legal battle to try to overturn that ban.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain, has for years angered many Brazilians with extreme statements on race, gender, and sexual preference, but he is also seen by his many supporters as an outsider who can clean up a corrupt political system.

Police have a suspect in custody and say only that they are continuing the investigation and that no clear motive was yet known, though the assailant told police he stabbed Bolsonaro on Thursday on “orders from God.”

Surveys consistently give Bolsonaro, a member of the Social Liberal Party, around 22 percent in of voter support. However, those polls find he would lose to most rivals in the likely event of a runoff, which takes place if no candidate wins a majority in the first ballot.

Bolsonaro’s campaign managers hope that the stabbing will draw sympathy votes that will win him the presidency.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo and Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Brazil presidential election thrown into chaos after front-runner stabbed

Flavio Bolsonaro, son of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro leaves the Santa Casa hospital, where his father was hospitalized after being stabbed in Juiz de Fora, Brazil September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

By Brad Brooks and Gabriel Stargardter

SAO PAULO/JUIZ DE FORA, Brazil (Reuters) – Brazil’s presidential campaign was thrown into chaos on Friday as the far-right front-runner was in serious condition after he was stabbed at a rally, just a month before the vote, raising fears of increased violence in the wide-open race.

Congressman Bolsonaro has angered many Brazilians by saying he would encourage police to ramp up their killing of suspected drug gang members and armed criminals, but he has a devoted following among conservative voters.

FILE PHOTO: Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro leaves an agribusiness fair in Esteio, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil August 29, 2018. REUTERS/Diego Vara/File photo

FILE PHOTO: Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro leaves an agribusiness fair in Esteio, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil August 29, 2018. REUTERS/Diego Vara/File photo

He could need two months to fully recover from Thursday’s attack and will spend at least a week in the hospital, following the life-threatening injuries, doctors said.

Bolsonaro was flown from Juiz de Fora in Minas Gerais state Friday morning, and is now in the Sirio Libanes hospital in Sao Paulo, one of the nation’s elite institutions.

Dr. Luiz Henrique Borsato, who operated on the candidate, said the internal wounds were “grave” and “put the patient’s life at risk” but that he was stable early Friday. Doctors were worried about an infection since Bolsonaro’s intestines were perforated, he added.

The knife reached 12 cm (4.7 inches) inside his abdomen and the candidate lost 2 liters (4.2 pints) of blood, the family said.

Meanwhile, fears of a flare-up in violence following the stabbing cast a shadow over Brazil on Friday as the nation celebrated Independence Day with political rallies expected in hundreds of cities.

Bolsonaro leads polling scenarios for the first-round vote on Oct. 7, but loses to most rivals in simulated run-off votes, which would take place on Oct. 28 if no candidate wins a majority in the first balloting.

Some analysts forecast that Bolsonaro could get a boost from the attack, a gruesome example of the violence he rails against, especially as support for his leftists rivals is split among three candidates.

Others, however, question if a such a polemical politician will gain any sympathy from voters who do not already back him.

Speaking from his hospital bed in Juiz de Fora in an online video, the retired Army captain compared the pain at first to being hit by the ball in a soccer game.

People surround a man suspected of stabbing Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro (not pictured) as he was campaigning in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais state, Brazil September 6, 2018. Felipe Couri / Minas Tribune / via REUTERS

People surround a man suspected of stabbing Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro (not pictured) as he was campaigning in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais state, Brazil September 6, 2018. Felipe Couri / Minas Tribune / via REUTERS

“It was intolerable and it seemed like maybe something worse was happening,” he said, talking in a weak, raspy voice with a tube in his nose and monitors beeping nearby. “I was preparing for this sort of thing. You run risks.”

The attack on Bolsonaro, 63, is a twist in what was already Brazil’s most unpredictable election since the country’s return to democracy three decades ago. Scores of businessmen and politicians have been jailed in corruption investigations in recent years and alienated voters.

Imprisoned former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would easily win the election, polls found, but he was barred from running because of his corruption conviction, scattering voter support among five main candidates.

Rival candidates called off campaign activities for Friday.

“YOU JUST ELECTED HIM PRESIDENT”

“I just want to send a message to the thugs who tried to ruin the life of a family man, a guy who is the hope for millions of Brazilians: You just elected him president. He will win in the first round,” Flavio Bolsonaro, Bolsonaro’s son, said on Friday.

His campaign could be hampered by not being able to hold street rallies. Under Brazil’s campaign laws, Bolsonaro’s tiny coalition has almost no campaign time on government-regulated candidate commercial blocs on television and radio. He must rely on social media and rallies around the country to drum up support.

Bolsonaro is running as the law-and-order candidate and has positioned himself as the anti-politician, though he has spent nearly three decades in Congress.

He has long espoused taking a radical stance on public security in Brazil, which has more homicides than any other country, according to United Nations statistics.

Bolsonaro, whose trademark pose at rallies is a “guns up” gesture holding both hands like pistols, has said he would encourage police to kill suspected drug gang members and other armed criminals with abandon.

He has openly praised Brazil’s military dictatorship and in the past said it should have killed more people.

Bolsonaro faces trial before the Supreme Court for speech that prosecutors said incited hate and rape. He has called the charges politically motivated.

His stabbing is the latest instance of political violence, which is particularly rampant at the local level. Earlier this year, Marielle Franco, a Rio city councilwoman who was an outspoken critic of police violence against slum residents, was assassinated.

Police video taken at a precinct and aired by TV Globo showed suspect Adelio Bispo de Oliveira telling police he had been ordered by God to carry out the attack.

One supporter camped outside Bolsonaro’s hospital room, Bruno Engler, 21, who is running for a Minas Gerais state congressional seat on Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party, said if he could, he would lynch the suspect.

“They call us on the right the intolerant, the violent ones, but those who are intolerant and violent are them,” Engler said, referring to leftist voters.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo and Gabriel Stargardter and Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Juiz de Fora; Writing by Brad Brooks and Alexandra Alper; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Jeffrey Benkoe)

London attacker took steroids before deadly rampage, inquest told

Police officers and forensics investigators and police officers work on Westminster Bridge the morning after an attack by a man driving a car and weilding a knife left five people dead and dozens injured, in London, Britain, March 23, 2017.

LONDON (Reuters) – The man who mowed down pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before killing a police officer outside Britain’s parliament last year had taken steroids beforehand, a London court heard on Monday.

Last March Khalid Masood, 52, killed four people on the bridge before, armed with two carving knives, he stabbed to death an unarmed police officer in the grounds of parliament. He was shot dead at the scene.

It was the first of five attacks on Britain last year which police blamed on terrorism.

A submission to a pre-inquest hearing into the fatalities at London’s Old Bailey Court said there was evidence that Masood had taken anabolic steroids in the hours or days before his death.

“A more specialist pharmaceutical toxicologist … has been instructed to prepare a report addressing how steroid use may have affected Khalid Masood,” the submission by the inquiry’s lawyer Jonathan Hough said.

The hearing also heard from Gareth Patterson, a lawyer representing relatives of four of the victims, who lambasted tech firms over their stance on encryption and failing to remove radicalizing material from websites.

Patterson said families wanted answers about how Masood, who was known to the UK security service MI5, was radicalized and why shortly before his attack, he was able to share an extremist document via WhatsApp.

He said victims’ relatives could not understand “why it is that radicalizing material continues to be freely available on the internet”.

“We do not understand why it’s necessary for WhatsApp, Telegram and these sort of media applications to have end-to-end encryption,” he told the hearing at London’s Old Bailey court.

Patterson told Reuters following the hearing that he was “fed up” of prosecuting terrorism cases which featured encryption and particularly the WhatsApp messaging service.

“How many times do we have to have this?” he said.

The British government has been pressurizing companies to do more to remove extremist content and rein in encryption which they say allows terrorists and criminals to communicate without being monitored by police and spies, while also making it hard for the authorities to track them down.

However, it has met quiet resistance from tech leaders like Facebook, Google and Twitter and critics say ending encryption will weaken security for legitimate actions and open a back door for government snooping.

Samantha Leek, the British government’s lawyer, said the issues over encryption and radicalization were a matter of public policy and too wide for an inquest to consider.

Police say Masood had planned and carried out his attack alone, despite claims of responsibility from Islamic State, although a report in December confirmed he was known to MI5 for associating with extremists, particularly between 2010 and 2012, but not considered a threat.

Coroner Mark Lucraft said the inquest, which will begin in September, would seek to answer “obvious and understandable questions” the families might have.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

Palestinian stabs Israeli in Jerusalem; anti-Trump protest flares in Beirut

A Palestinian demonstrator shouts during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah December 11, 2017.

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard at Jerusalem’s main bus station on Sunday, police said, and violence flared near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut over U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Four days of street protests in the Palestinian territories over Trump’s announcement on Wednesday have largely died down, but his overturning of long-standing U.S. policy on Jerusalem — a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians — drew more Arab warnings of potential damage to prospects for Middle East peace.

“Our hope is that everything is calming down and that we are returning to a path of normal life without riots and without violence,” Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Army Radio.

But in Jerusalem, a security guard was in critical condition after a 24-year-old Palestinian man from the occupied West Bank stabbed him after approaching a metal detector at an entrance to the city’s central bus station, police said. The alleged assailant was taken into custody after a passer-by tackled him.

In public remarks on Sunday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, a frequent critic of Israel, called it an “invader state” and a “terror state”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who spoke at a news conference in Paris alongside French President Emmanuel Macron after the two leaders met, fired back:

“I’m not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villages in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, helps Iran go around international sanctions and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people,” Netanyahu said.

Macron told Netanyahu that he needed to make gestures to the Palestinians to break the impasse between the two sides.

“I asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to make some courageous gestures towards the Palestinians to get out of the current impasse,” Macron said, suggesting that a freeze of construction in settlements could be a first step.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory and say the status of the city should be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks. Israel says that all of Jerusalem is its capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

The Trump administration has said it is still committed to reviving Palestinian-Israeli talks that collapsed in 2014, but jettisoning old policies is necessary to break the deadlock.

Washington says it has not taken a position on Jerusalem’s final status or borders, but it is sensible to recognize that any future peace deal will have Israel’s capital in the city.

The United States was “as committed to the peace process as we’ve ever been”, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday. Trump “didn’t talk about boundaries, he didn’t talk about borders… Because the final status of Jerusalem is between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It’s not for the Americans to decide.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the region, Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said on Saturday. The White House said on Sunday that decision was unfortunate and Pence looked forward to seeing Netanyahu and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“It’s unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region,” said Jarrod Agen, a spokesman for Pence.

Netanyahu reacted to critics in a statement before talks with Macron, to be followed by a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

“I hear (from Europe) voices of condemnation over President Trump’s historic announcement, but I have not heard any condemnation for the rocket firing against Israel that has come (after the announcement) and the awful incitement against us,” Netanyahu said.

A Palestinian protester throws back a gas canister fired by Israeli forces during a protest in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

DEMONSTRATIONS

In Beirut, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, near the U.S. Embassy.

Demonstrators set fires in the street, torched U.S. and Israeli flags and threw projectiles towards security forces that had barricaded the main road to the complex.

In the Moroccan capital, Rabat, tens of thousands of protesters marched down the city’s main thoroughfare chanting slogans including, “The people want to liberate Palestine” and “Death to Israel, enemy of the people and provoker of wars.”

Waving Palestinian flags and holding up pictures of Jerusalem, they expressed anger at the “betrayal” by Arab governments perceived to have backed Trump’s move.

In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, thousands protested outside the U.S. embassy, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”.

Maliki has said the Palestinians will be looking for a new peace talks broker instead of the United States and would seek a United Nations Security Council resolution over Trump’s decision.

Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Saturday urged the United States to abandon its decision on Jerusalem and said the move would spur violence throughout the region.

Echoing that view, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, said the U.S. move “could throw a lifebuoy to terrorist and armed groups, which have begun to lose ground” in the Middle East.

GAZA TUNNEL

Along Israel’s tense frontier with the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military on Sunday destroyed what it described as a “significant” cross-border attack tunnel dug by the enclave’s dominant Islamist group, Hamas.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas on the demolition, which came as Palestinian factions tried to meet Sunday’s deadline for an Egyptian-mediated handover of Gaza by Hamas to Western-backed President Abbas after a decade’s schism.

Pre-dawn Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday killed two Palestinian gunmen after militants fired rockets from the area into Israel on Friday.

(Additional reporting by Dan Williams and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem, John Irish in Paris, Tom Perry in Beirut, Agustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta, Sami Aboudi in Dubai, Doina Chiacu in Washington, and Jeff Mason in West Palm Beach, Florida; Editing by Peter Graff and Mary Milliken)

Finnish stabbings treated as terror, suspect ‘targeted women’: police

Finnish stabbings treated as terror, suspect 'targeted women': police

By Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell

HELSINKI/TURKU, Finland (Reuters) – Finnish police said on Saturday that an 18-year-old Moroccan man arrested after knife attacks that killed two people in the city of Turku appeared to have specifically targeted women and that the spree was being treated as terrorism-related.

The suspect arrested on Friday after being shot in the leg by police had arrived in Finland last year, they said, adding they later arrested four other Moroccan men over possible links to him.

“Due to information received during the night, the Turku stabbings are now being investigated as murders with terrorist intent,” Crista Granroth from the National Bureau of Investigation told a news conference.

While the identity of the victims has not been disclosed by authorities, police said the attacker appeared to have targeted women during the stabbing spree in downtown Turku, a city of just under 200,000 people in southwest Finland.

“It seems that the suspect chose women as his targets, because the men who were wounded were injured when they tried to help, or prevent the attacks,” Granroth said.

Both of those killed in the attack were women, as well as six of the eight wounded, she added. The two who died were Finns and an Italian and two Swedish citizens were among the injured.

Finnish broadcaster MTV, citing an unnamed source, said the main suspect had been denied asylum in Finland. The police said only that he been “part of the asylum process”.

SCREAMING

“First thing we heard was a young woman, screaming like crazy. I thought it’s just kids having fun … but then people started to move around and I saw a man with a knife in his hand, stabbing a woman,” said Laura Laine, who was sitting in a cafe during one of the attacks.

“Then a person ran towards us shouting ‘He has a knife’, and everybody from the terrace ran inside. Next, a woman came in to the cafe. She was crying hysterically, down on her knees, saying someone’s neck has been slashed open.”

Four of the wounded were still in hospital, three of them in intensive care, while the other injured persons would be sent home on Saturday, the hospital said.

Local media said the police raided an apartment in the eastern Turku suburb of Varissuo, which is home to a large immigrant population, and located about seven kilometers from the market square where the attacks took place.

Flags were at half mast on Saturday across Finland, whose Security Intelligence Service (SIS) raised the terrorism threat level in June to ‘elevated’ from ‘low’, saying it had become aware of terrorism-related plans.

Leaders of Turku’s Iraqi and Syrian community condemned the attacks and said they would hold a rally of solidarity in the city’s main square, but canceled the plan due to security concerns.

An anti-immigration group was planning a demonstration in Helsinki.

“Terrorists want to pit people against each other. We will not let this happen. Finnish society will not be defeated by fear or hatred,” Interior Minister Paula Risikko said on Twitter.

On Thursday, a suspected Islamist militant drove a van into crowds in Barcelona in Spain, killing 13 people and wounding scores of others.

Finnish police said they were looking into any possible links between the Finnish stabbings and the attack in Spain and that they had issued an international arrest warrant for a sixth Moroccan national.

(Additional reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; Writing by Jussi Rosendahl and Niklas Pollard; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Andrew Bolton)

Two dead, at least six hurt in knife attack in Finland

Rescue personnel cordon the place where several people were stabbed, at Turku Market Square, Finland August 18, 2017. LEHTIKUVA/Roni Lehti via REUTERS

By Tuomas Forsell

TURKU, Finland (Reuters) – A man with a knife killed two people and wounded at least six in a stabbing rampage in a market square in the Finnish city of Turku on Friday, police said.

Police shot the suspected attacker in the leg and arrested him. They said they had yet to establish the identity of the man who appeared to be of foreign origin, or his motive.

They warned people to stay away from the city and reinforced security nationwide, with increased patrols and more surveillance, in case more people were involved. People were allowed to return to the city center a few hours later.

“At this stage, there is only one suspect and we are investigating whether there are more people involved … but it looks likely (he was alone),” said Markus Laine from the National Bureau of Investigation.

“At this stage, we do not investigate this (as a terrorism attack) but the possibility has not been ruled out,” he told a news conference.

Interior Minister Paula Risikko said: “We have not been able to confirm the person’s identity… we have been in contact with the immigration service as the person looks like a foreigner.”

Eyewitnesses described the panic at the scene.

“A man walked towards the ice cream stand where I work, and he hit a woman three times. He started running, went past my kiosk, and he had a knife in his hand,” Terttu Lehtinen told Reuters.

She said that some other men ran behind, apparently chasing him.

“We were sitting by the market square, just enjoying the afternoon. Suddenly people started screaming and yelling, they were hysterical,” said another witness, who gave her name only as Reetta.

“We started running towards our car and, as we got there, my boyfriend said a woman had been stabbed several times in the neck,” she told Reuters.

The six wounded were taken to hospital, police said.

Prime Minister Juha Sipila said: “My deepest condolences to the families and close-ones of the Turku victims. The events of the day are shocking us all.” He added that the government would meet later.

Finland is usually peaceful but the Security Intelligence Service raised the terrorism threat level in June, saying it had become aware of terrorism-related plans in Finland.

The government has grown more concerned about attacks, partly since an Uzbek man killed four people in neighboring Sweden in April by driving a hijacked truck into crowd in central Stockholm.

On Thursday, a suspected Islamist militant drove a van into crowds in Barcelona, Spain, killing 13 people and wounding scores of others.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “It is with great concern that I have learnt of the violent attacks in Turku, Finland. While details are still emerging, we strongly condemn this unprovoked attack which comes only 24 hours after the horror that unfolded in Spain.”

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; Writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Robin Pomeroy)

College professor, second man sought in fatal Chicago stabbing

College professor, second man sought in fatal Chicago stabbing

By Ian Simpson

(Reuters) – A nationwide manhunt was under way for a Northwestern University professor and an employee of Britain’s Oxford University who are accused in a fatal stabbing in Chicago last week, police said on Thursday.

Wyndham Lathem, 42, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Northwestern, and Andrew Warren, 56, who works at Oxford, are both at large, but Chicago police said the authorities have some idea where they might be.

“We strongly encourage Professor Lathem and Mr. Warren to do the right thing and turn themselves into any police department,” the statement said.

Officers who responded to a call last Thursday found a 30-year-old man in central Chicago with several cuts to his body, police said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene and has not been officially identified.

The police have not given a motive for the slaying or what relationship the man may have had with Lathem and Warren.

Police have restricted Lathem’s passport and Warren’s visa, and arrest warrants were out for them. Federal officials are aiding in the case and a national alert has been sent to law enforcement agencies, it said.

Northwestern said that Lathem, a faculty member since 2007, had been placed on administrative leave and banned from the Chicago-area school.

“There is no indication of any risk to the Northwestern community from this individual at this time,” it said in a statement.

Warren is a senior treasury assistant at Somerville College, part of the Oxford University network, the college said in a statement.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson)

Muslim elders urge return to prayer as Israel backs down over Al-Aqsa

Palestinian women shout slogans after a prayer outside the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

By Luke Baker and Ali Sawafta

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Muslim elders urged worshippers to return to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Thursday after Israel backed down in the face of 10 days of often-violent protests and removed all security measures it had installed at the site.

Israel’s decision marks a significant climbdown by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and comes after days of diplomatic effort by the United Nations, the involvement of President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy and pressure from countries in the region including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The dispute began after Israel installed metal detectors, cameras and steel barriers at Muslim entrances to Al-Aqsa compound, also known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, following the July 14 killing of two Israeli policemen by Arab gunmen who had concealed weapons there.

The extra security provoked days of unrest, with violent clashes on the streets of East Jerusalem. Israeli forces shot and killed four Palestinians in the fighting, and a Palestinian man stabbed and killed three Israelis in their home.

Most Muslims have refused to enter the compound for the past two weeks, instead praying in the streets around the Old City.

But Muslim elders declared themselves satisfied that Israeli authorities had reverted to how security was before July 14.

“The technical report showed that all obstacles the occupation (Israel) put outside Al-Aqsa mosque were removed,” said Abdel-Azeem Salhab, the head of the Waqf, the Jordanian-funded trust that oversees Jerusalem’s Muslim holy sites.

“We praise this stand in the past two weeks outside Al-Aqsa and we want this stand to continue outside Al-Aqsa and now inside Al-Aqsa,” he said, urging worshippers to return to pray.

Palestinian political factions issued statements supporting the Waqf announcement, which may help quell the unrest. Before the announcement, factions had been calling for a “day of rage” on Friday, which would probably have fueled the violence.

Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and has been custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924, said Israel’s removal of the security measures were an “essential step to calm the situation”.

Saudi Arabia said King Salman had been in contact with the United States and other world powers to try to defuse the tensions and had “stressed the need for the return of calm”. It called for respect for the sanctity of the compound.

“King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, has held contacts with many world leaders over the past few days,” an announcement from the Saudi royal court, published by state news agency SPA, said.

MULTI-FACETED DISPUTE

Palestinian political factions were quick to highlight what they saw as a victory over Israel, with Netanyahu regarded as having backed down. A spokesman for Netanyahu declined to comment on the decision, but the right-wing criticized him.

“Israel is emerging weakened from this crisis, to my regret,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose right-wing faction is in Netanyahu’s coalition and is a potential challenger for the leadership.

“The truth must be stated. Instead of bolstering our sovereignty in Jerusalem, a message was relayed that our sovereignty can be shaken,” he said.

Netanyahu had insisted that the extra security was needed to ensure safety at the site, which is also popular with tourists. But by taking the steps to bolster security, Israel was materially changing the sensitive status quo, which has governed movement and religious practice for decades.

The Noble Sanctuary contains Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam, and the golden Dome of the Rock. The area, which sits on a tree-lined marble plateau in the heart of the Old City, is also holy in Judaism, as the site of two ancient temples and is referred to by Jews as Temple Mount.

The dispute, like many in the Holy Land, is about more than security devices, taking in issues of sovereignty, religious freedom, occupation and Palestinian nationalism.

Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and the holy compound, in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area and declared it part of its “indivisible capital”.

That has never been recognized internationally, with the United Nations and others regarding East Jerusalem as occupied by Israel and maintain that the status of the city can only be determined through negotiations between the parties.

Palestinians do not recognize Israel’s authority in East Jerusalem, which they want as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and are extremely sensitive to the presence of Israeli security forces in and around the Noble Sanctuary.

(Additional reporting by Ori Lewis in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Two German tourists stabbed to death on Egyptian beach

Egyptian in Red Sea knife attack supported Islamic State, sources say

By Mohamed Abdellah and Ahmed Tolba

CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian man stabbed two German tourists to death and wounded four others on Friday at a popular seaside vacation spot on the Red Sea, after apparently searching out foreigners to attack, officials and witnesses said.

The knifeman killed the two German women and wounded two other tourists at the Zahabia hotel in Hurghada, then swam to a neighboring beach to attack at least two more people at the Sunny Days El Palacio resort before being caught by staff and arrested, officials and security sources said.

It was the first major attack on foreign tourists since a similar assault on the same resort more than a year ago, and comes as Egypt struggles to revive a tourism industry hurt by security threats and years of political upheaval.

“He had a knife with him and stabbed each of them three times in the chest. They died on the beach,” the security manager at the El Palacio hotel, Saud Abdelaziz, told Reuters.

“He jumped a wall between the hotels and swam to the other beach.”

Abdelaziz said two of the injured were Czech and two Armenian, but other officials said one of the women was Russian. They were being treated a local hospital. The Czech Foreign Ministry tweeted that one Czech woman had sustained a minor leg injury.

The German Foreign Ministry said it had no definite information, but could not rule out that German citizens were among the victims. The German Embassy in Cairo was working closely with the authorities, a ministry spokesman said.

ISLAMIST INSURGENCY

The attacker’s motive was still under investigation, the Interior Ministry said.

“He was looking for foreigners and he didn’t want any Egyptians,” said one member of staff at the Zahabia Hotel.

Egypt is fighting Islamist insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula, where they mainly target security forces, but militants have also attacked tourist targets in the past, as well as Coptic Christians and churches.

Hurghada, some 400 km (250 miles) south of the capital Cairo, is one of Egypt’s most popular vacation spots on the Red Sea.

In January 2016, two assailants armed with a gun, a knife and a suicide belt landed on the beach of a hotel in Hurghada, and wounded two foreign tourists.

Egypt has been hoping that investments in airport security and the cheaper Egyptian pound will bring tourist visits to its beaches and ancient sites back up to levels seen before its 2011 uprising.

The industry, a crucial source of hard currency, has struggled since then with years of political turmoil and mass protests, as well as the fallout from the crash of a jet taking Russian holidaymakers home from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in October 2015, in which 224 people died. Islamic State said it had brought the plane down with a bomb.

Friday’s attack came on a day that five policemen were killed by gunmen on a motorbike who ambushed their car just south of Cairo.

(Additional reporting by Mostafa Hashem in Cairo, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev, Robert Muller in Prague, Andreas Rinke in Berlin; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Kevin Liffey)