The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested US citizen Mohamed Elshinawy under suspicion of accepting 9,000 dollars from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the FBI revealed on Monday.
Elshinawy is suspected of creating an intricate network stretching from Bangladesh to Britain using social media, various e-mail accounts and an eBay account. He concealed the money transfers as legitimate sales of printers.
Elshinawy utilized a portion of the funds to purchase a laptop, a new phone, and a virtual private network while his colleagues purchased surveillance gear.
ISIS planned to use the money and equipment to finance an attack on US soil.
Elshinawy was arrested on Friday in Edgewood, Maryland. He claimed he never intended to carry out attacks in the US and that he was lying to ISIS. He said he was planning to spend the money on himself and not use it as ISIS had intended.
The FBI became aware of Elshinawy in June after various money transfers arrived in his account from overseas. He is now awaiting trial.
ISIS is well known for expertly using modern technology and has created its own widespread social network. The organization also posts YouTube clips and tweets to attract other followers to their ideology. The group even created an educational application for children.
On the 35th anniversary of a deadly attack on a Paris kosher restaurant, French Jews called for the extradition of three Palestinians suspected of carrying it out.
CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities and organizations, issued a statement on the matter on Wednesday Aug. 9, the anniversary of the 1982 attack in which six people were murdered and 22 injured on Rosiers Street in Paris in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in France since World War II.
The suspects in the attack on the Jo Goldenberg deli are wanted for questioning as per a 2015 French arrest warrant. One of the suspects lives in Jordan, another near Ramallah in the West Bank and a third in Norway, according to CRIF. None of the relevant governments have agreed to extradite the suspects, whom French investigators believe belonged to the Abu Nidal terrorist group affiliated with Fatah.
But Francis Kalifat, president of CRIF, said France is partly responsible for the failure to bring the suspects in for questioning and possibly prosecution.
“We can only regret that France agrees to this situation and has not even complained about it to the Palestinian Authority, which is home to Mahmoud Kader Abed, also known as Hisham Harb, who was the main figure responsible for the attack,” Kalifat wrote in a statement.
Among the victims of the attack were two American citizens, Anne Van Zanten and Grace Cutler.
CHARLESTON, West Virginia (AP) — No knot-tying demonstrations. No wood-carving advice. US President Donald Trump went straight to starting a fire in a speech at a national Boy Scout gathering.
Parents, former Scouts and others were furious after Trump railed against his enemies, promoted his political agenda and underlined his insistence on loyalty before an audience of tens of thousands of school-age Scouts in West Virginia on Monday night.
“Is nothing safe?” Jon Wolfsthal, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter, saying Trump turned the event into a “Nazi Youth rally.”
Trump, the eighth president to address the Scouts’ National Jamboree, was cheered by the crowd, but his comments put an organization that has tried in recent years to avoid political conflict and become more inclusive in an awkward position.
The knot-tying was left to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who said on Twitter that his stomach was in knots over the president’s over-the-top delivery.
“If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t,” Murphy said. “It’s downright icky.”
The Boy Scouts’ official Facebook page was barraged with comments condemning the speech. Several people posted links to the Scouts’ policy on participation in political events — which sharply limits what Scouts should do. Boy Scouts are typically 10 to 18 years old.
One woman wrote in disbelief that the Scouts started booing when Trump mentioned Obama.
Trump noted from the podium that Obama did not personally attend either of the two national Jamborees during his tenure. (Obama did address the 2010 gathering by video to mark the Scouts’ 100th anniversary. The Jamboree is typically held every four years.)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former president of the Boy Scouts, invited Trump to the gathering, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday.
“When all is said and done, those Boy Scouts, what they will remember from the jamboree in West Virginia is that the president showed up,” Nauert said. “And that’s a pretty incredible thing.”
The pushback from Americans over the speech included members from both parties.
“I just don’t think it was appropriate,” said Rob Romalewski, a Republican and retired information-technology expert from suburban New Orleans who attained the rank of Eagle Scout as a teenager and has worked with the Boy Scouts all his adult life.
“It just doesn’t seem like he was talking to the boys,” Romalewski said. “He was more or less just using it as an excuse to babble on.”
Nancy Smith, a Democrat and elementary school teacher from Shelby Township, Michigan, said she won’t encourage any of her six grandchildren to enter Scouting. Smith is asking for an apology from the national group.
The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement after the speech that it does not promote any one political candidate or philosophy.
On Tuesday, after questions about the blowback, the organization said that it “reflects a number of cultures and beliefs.”
“We will continue to be respectful of the wide variety of viewpoints in this country,” the statement read.
Trump kicked off his speech by saying, to cheers from the boys, “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?” Yet much of what he had to say next was steeped in politics.
Trump began to recite the Scout law, a 12-point oath that starts with a Scout being trustworthy and loyal.
“We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that,” said the man who is alleged to have asked fired FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of loyalty.
In his speech, Trump also jokingly threatened to fire Health Secretary Tom Price — an Eagle Scout who joined him on stage — if lawmakers do not repeal and replace Obama’s health care law. He called Washington a “swamp,” a “cesspool” and a “sewer.” He repeatedly trashed the media, directing the crowd’s attention to the reporters in attendance.
In one aside, he told the boys they could begin saying “Merry Christmas” again under his watch. In another, he talked about a billionaire friend — real estate developer William Levitt — who sold his company, bought a yacht and led “a very interesting life.”
“I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did,” Trump teased. Then he said he had run into the man at a cocktail party. The moral of Trump’s tale was that Levitt “lost momentum,” something he said they should never do.
Levitt is often considered the father of postwar American suburbia, founding communities such as Levittown on New York’s Long Island, but was criticized for refusing to sell to blacks.
In the past few years, the Boy Scouts have retreated from the culture wars, dropping their ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders, and have tried harder to recruit minorities.
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and co-founder of Scouts for Equality, a nonprofit group that has pushed to end discrimination against gay and transgender people in Scouting, said Trump’s remarks “really harmed the Boy Scouts’ ability to do that work, which is all about serving America.”
“The wrong speech at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Wahls said.
The hate crimes unit of the Montreal police department says the search for a rapper accused of hate speech is a “top priority.”
B’nai Brith, which has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents for 35 years, said rapper Jonathan Azaziah (aka Madd Cold), uses his music to promote antisemitism.
“We are pleased that the Montreal Hate Crimes Unit is taking this matter very seriously,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Azaziah has not only proclaimed his desire to murder Jews but encourages others to do the same. This is perhaps the most clear-cut case of incitement to violence against the Jewish people in Canada that we have seen in a long time.”
It’s a case the hate crimes unit is taking seriously.
“An investigation is under way and findings will be sent to our prosecution,” Commander Caroline Cournoyer said. “We will try to find this person. This is really important for us. It is serious.”
Azaziah spends a lot of his time in Montreal and has written songs called “Death to Israel” and “Overthrow the Saudis.”
As a result of the investigation many websites have removed Azaziah’s music and videos from their sites and according to B’nai Brith global music distributors have also begun to remove his content.
B’nai Brith’s CEO says there is no place in Canada for people with such inflammatory views.
“At a time where incitement to violence is one of the leading causes of terrorism worldwide, Azaziah is using online global music platforms to spread his Jew-hate,” said Mostyn.
Steven Slimovitch, a lawyer with B’nai Brith, said while hate speech is illegal in Canada, intent has to be proven and in this case Slimovitch thinks the intent is evident.
“When you make it a concerted effort, and I would have to believe that a song which are not composed overnight, time and thought went into this and I would assume, in order to promote it,” said Slimovitch.
B’nai brith has also voiced its concerns to the Minister of Justice and Public Safety and the Centre for Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence, which has launched its own investigation.
RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian Jewish congressman was accused by one of his party’s colleagues of Nazi behavior for recommending criminal charges against Brazil’s president.
“I will never bow to anyone when the offense pleaded against me is a racist atrocity alluding to my religion, though concealed by a play on words. I am the only Jew in office, which makes the defamation even more abusive,” Congressman Sergio Zveiter said on Thursday.
Zveiter, who is currently Brazil’s only Jewish congressman, is the author of the charge submitted to the Brazilian Congress denouncing President Michel Temer for passive corruption. If the plenary accepts the recommendation, Temer will be judged by the country’s Supreme Court.
“We are going to tear up our criminal code. This is an apology for Nazism and fascism. Mussolini was evil. Hitler was evil with this policy. The congressman’s behavior was sad,” Congressman Darcisio Perondi said of the Jewish lawmaker in defense of President Temer.
Sergio Zveiter belongs to a family of prestigious lawmakers. His father, Waldemar Zveiter, is a former president of Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice. His brother, Luis Zveiter, has presided over Rio’s Court of Justice.
“Being accused of Nazism taints the honor of anyone, but especially when the victim is a member of the community that had six million of its members exterminated by the repugnant Nazi regime. That’s religious prejudice, the only reason to address a Jew using the references of what most nefarious and painful struck our people in the history of mankind, the Holocaust,” he added.
Several Jewish officials supported Zveiter’s reaction, led by the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s umbrella Jewish organization
“It is regrettable that, in the context of the political debate, this type of analogy is used improperly and precisely to reach a member of our community. We lament and reject any comparison of the current political situation in Brazil with the Nazi regime,” said the confederation’s president Fernando Lottenberg.
Rio Jewish Federation President Herry Rosenberg agrees. “The constant comparison of political opponents with Nazis and fascists must be repudiated throughout society. Zveiter is a Brazilian of the highest moral and ethical stature and a distinguished member of our community,” he said.
“Sergio Zveiter’s reaction filled the Jewish community with pride. He belongs to a traditional family of lawmakers. His father Waldemar Zveiter was the author of a phrase that stood as his trademark: ‘I am Brazilian, Jewish and Zionist’,” Israel’s honorary consul Osias Wurman told JTA.
After massive media coverage, Perondi released a note to the media: “If there was a misunderstanding, I apologize to the whole Jewish community, which I respect and where I have I have excellent relations.”
An argument echoed through the tidy home perched on a rise in the Windsor Hills neighborhood a half-dozen miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Shouted threats gave way to screams. Then the thud of blows.
De’von Hall stood over his mother’s blood-covered body on that April evening this year. One of the home’s residents, Brandeis Eubanks, dialed 911.
“He hit her. He stomped her out,” he told the dispatcher. “They got in a tussling match and next thing you know she was on the ground and he was stomping her out.”
Alecia Benson lay on her back, unconscious and spitting blood. Her face was swollen, lips sliced open, head battered, nose broken and cut.
“Her son is still here and I don’t want him to attack me,” Eubanks said. “If you guys get here, you can apprehend him.”
In recent months, Benson had taken in her only child. She didn’t see another way to help him.
More than five years had passed since Hall’s final day on an NFL roster. He wasn’t a star, instead one of the anonymous hopefuls who fill out practice squads and 90-man training-camp rosters. But he managed to achieve what few do and forged a career in professional football.
Inside the two-story home, Hall, 29, dressed and loaded up his backpack.
“Help her,” Eubanks told the dispatcher. “Help her. Please.”
“You’ve got to get a clean dry cloth or towel,” the dispatcher said, “and apply pressure to where the blood …”
“No, no, no,” he said. “OK. Please come. Please come now.”
As Eubanks pleaded with the dispatcher, Hall walked out of the home and down the middle of Secrest Drive.
Another man screamed and shouted in the background.
“Get off the phone and get an ambulance here!” he said.
The line went dead.
He had this killer instinct in his eyes. He loved to hit. He loved to play football. That was his passion.
— Stan Coleman
Hall had a gift. Craig Cieslik witnessed it every day. The football coach at Cleveland High in Reseda rotated Hall between six positions as a senior in 2004. He had an unusual blend of size, speed and strength. He prided himself on toughness — once refusing to exit a game after slicing his hand open — and delivering wince-inducing hits. His grandfather played football at Wiley College, an NAIA school in Texas, and the Buffalo Bills drafted an uncle from Baylor in 1976. Hall wanted to follow their path.
“He had this killer instinct in his eyes,” said Stan Coleman, one of Benson’s brothers. “He loved to hit. He loved to play football. That was his passion.”
The future seemed straightforward: Hall would pursue an NFL career, then coach football. After all, he already acted like a coach on the field. Benson once told Cieslik to let her know if her son ever stepped out of line. The coach didn’t need to because Hall was the sort of rule-follower who answered questions “Yes, sir” or “No, sir” and meant it.
When Jeff Copp, then safeties coach at Utah State, recruited Hall in 2005, he asked the youngster whom he would lean on to decide where to play. Hall didn’t hesitate: his mother. Benson’s daughter died of sudden infant death syndrome when Hall was a toddler. It cemented the tight-knit relationship between the mother and son.
“She was his rock,” Copp said.
At Utah State, Hall started the season opener at linebacker as a true freshman. He built a reputation as a quick learner and one of the team’s most punishing tacklers. Off the field he kept to himself, usually holed up in his room playing Madden NFL video games or talking to his mother on the phone. Gaining his trust wasn’t easy, but when you did, he revealed a quick wit and an obsession with maintaining a clean-cut appearance to go along with a burgeoning confidence in his ability to play in the NFL.
“He was a freak when it came to what he could do on the field with how strong he was and how fast he was,” said James Brindley, a former Utah State defensive back.
Entering Hall’s senior year in 2008, Copp noticed he took longer to focus. Hall’s mind wandered. He eventually stopped going to class to train for the NFL draft.
One NFL team’s scouting report hinted at the concerns, saying his physical ability and understanding of the game “does not register” on the field.
When members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers filed into darkened meeting rooms after practice, they flipped on lights and closed doors. They often discovered Hall standing behind a door, staring at the wall without a word. No one knew what to make of it.
Like so many other players clinging to the fringe of the NFL, Hall’s name made regular appearances in the league’s transaction reports. He signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent in April 2009. He was late to meetings and regarded as immature. After being cut five months later, he joined the Indianapolis Colts, had the team’s horseshoe logo tattooed on his chest and played four regular-season games before being waived the day after Christmas. The Buccaneers picked him up two days later, intrigued by his athleticism.
From the first day, Hall’s odd behavior left teammates uneasy, sometimes afraid. He stood by himself on the practice field. Teammates tried to get him to join them for movies or dinner. He declined.
When Joshua Taylor, one of his Utah State roommates, asked what the NFL was like, Hall replied that all he did was smoke weed, practice, then smoke more weed.
Hall repeatedly told a strange story about a car accident in Tampa where he hit his head and had to be put in a straitjacket, then injected with an unknown substance to calm down. Friends pressed for more details. He couldn’t provide them.
The Buccaneers released Hall in August 2010 a few days before the team’s rookies were scheduled to perform their annual skits. Most of them poked fun at Hall being in places where he wasn’t expected. The team’s uneasiness had become a running joke. Executives worried about Hall’s reaction to the skits if he remained on the roster.
On Facebook, Hall mentioned injuring his hamstring during training camp with the Buccaneers. But he told Taylor that coaches wouldn’t give him an opportunity to play because they believed he was unbalanced.
Around 5 p.m. on Sept. 20, 2010, 911 operators in Luna County, N.M., received seven calls reporting a reckless driver on westbound Interstate 10.
The green Pontiac Grand Am, driven by Hall on his way home from Florida, sped to 60 mph, then slowed to 35 mph. He refused to let other cars pass.
The eighth 911 call was from a woman who said the car tried to run her off the road. A tractor-trailer helped box in Hall until two Luna County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived. Wearing a black hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, Hall denied any wrongdoing. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor with probation and fines.
Hall became difficult for his Temecula-based agent, Derrick Fox, to reach. If they connected, Hall answered “yes” or “no” to questions without elaboration.
After Hall’s grandfather, Leslie Benson, died in June 2011, Hall waved his arms in the air at the funeral. He yelled as if he was riding a roller coaster.
The Carolina Panthers signed Hall a few weeks later. He didn’t last long. A prominent Panthers player and team chaplain called Fox, concerned about his client’s unusual behavior and soiled clothes. The team cut ties.
Hall landed auditions with two Canadian Football League teams. Neither worked out.
During a CFL combine in Santa Monica, Hall arrived in a wrinkled gray suit, full beard and tousled hair. Other players wore workout clothes. He fished a resume out of his backpack. Extra clothes flew everywhere. Hall eventually changed out of the suit and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 or 4.9 seconds, almost a half-second slower than his usual time in college.
His words became garbled. He wore headphones to drown out the voices in his head. He refused to hug Tony Benson, a close uncle. He laughed for no reason. He shouted violent song lyrics. Each Facebook post sounded stranger than the one before.
“religion single seat single engine F-16 fighting falcon fighter jet.”
“Natural ability has allowed…. Natures ability has caused doubt I am thankful for my choice.”
“I’m not scared of washer machines. I’m nice. I don’t agree with communism. Im nice.”
If he caught the dog, you didn’t know if he was going to pet it or kill it. I wouldn’t want to be in a room one-on-one with him.
— Caleb Taylor
One day a Utah State teammate, Daryl Fields, drove Hall to an apartment in Salt Lake City where Taylor was visiting his twin brother, Caleb. Before arriving, Fields warned the brothers on the phone that this wasn’t the same Hall they knew in college. He wore old Utah State sweats. His eyes were bloodshot and vacant. His teeth weren’t brushed. He smelled bad. He hadn’t shaved or cut his hair recently. And he didn’t seem to recognize his friends.
Caleb Taylor asked how Hall was doing. He sputtered about “chilling busting caps.”
Hall fixated on Joshua Taylor’s black chihuahua named Shadow. No one could distract Hall. He dived on the carpet and tried to catch the dog. He faced the animal on all fours, as if he was going to attack it. The brothers hustled the dog to another room.
“If he caught the dog, you didn’t know if he was going to pet it or kill it,” Caleb Taylor said. “I wouldn’t want to be in a room one-on-one with him. He showed a lot of signs of aggression.”
Each time Hall joined the brothers, something strange happened. Like the night they watched a Lakers game on television and Hall, for no apparent reason, sprinted back and forth across the room while staring at the ceiling.
The last time the Taylor brothers spoke to Hall on the phone, he let them know he was on the way to Caleb Taylor’s apartment in Salt Lake City.
“I’m walking from California to Utah,” Hall said.
He told the brothers he was in Barstow. He plugged in the route on his iPhone and estimated he’d reach them in a couple of weeks. He didn’t find this unusual. After staying in L.A. with his father, Cary Hall, he wanted to become a professional boxer.
Alecia Benson told family members her son would call when he got tired. She eventually drove to Barstow and brought him back.
Hall became a fixture in and around Martin Luther King Jr. Park, a mile and a half west of the Coliseum. His grandfather’s old duplex was on the other side of the park.
Hall’s mother tried to convince him to move into a furnished apartment. He refused. Instead, he paced up and down Western Avenue next to the park. He slept there. He smoked discarded cigarette butts. He stood on bleachers surrounding the baseball field. He looked dazed, but didn’t bother anyone. Sometimes he did football drills. He seemed to exist in a world of his own.
“That’s where he felt most safe,” Coleman said.
One day Hall darted back and forth across Western Avenue. He appeared to be playing chicken with cars. A bus clipped him. Benson found her son at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood. He avoided serious injury.
Before finally losing touch with Hall, Copp and Benson talked about how to get him help. But he didn’t think he had a problem. The player Copp remembered as one of the sweetest kids he had ever coached had become a stranger who barely recalled playing for Utah State.
When Utah State played USC at the Coliseum in September 2013, Hall approached a group of teammates in front of the stadium. He dragged a black garbage bag. When he tried to speak, only gibberish came out. He jogged away after about 30 seconds.
Sometimes Marquis Butler saw his former Utah State teammate pushing a shopping cart along the street. Each time Butler called his name, Hall disappeared into the park.
Each morning, Eric Griffin, director at the adjacent Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, asked Hall how he was doing. It took almost a year before he responded: “Good day. How are you?” Until recently, Griffin knew nothing about Hall’s NFL career.
Trecia Summerville, an assistant at the center, noticed a middle-aged woman speaking to Hall on the street. She asked the woman if Hall was bothering her.
“This is my son,” Benson said.
We’re a proud family and we take on our responsibilities, period. She didn’t want anyone else to be burdened with what he was going through.
— Tony Benson
Before the final encounter between the mother and son in the home on Secrest Drive, Benson told Eubanks to leave the room and not to get involved. She didn’t want Hall to lash out at another person. Her son was her concern.
“We’re a proud family and we take on our responsibilities, period,” Tony Benson said. “She didn’t want anyone else to be burdened with what he was going through. … She took it all on herself, even that night.”
Alecia Benson, 48, worked in the office of a local doctor. She laughed easily and had the gift to make whoever she talked to feel special. She became a confidant for a sprawling collection of twentysomething nieces and nephews, always available to listen or offer advice.
Alecia Benson argued with Hall in the days leading up to the final confrontation. Though he was about 30 pounds lighter than his playing weight of 215 pounds, he remained an intimidating figure. The L.A. Sheriff’s Department responded to multiple calls for service at the address in past years for domestic disturbances. Hall wasn’t arrested. The department refused to provide further details.
This time, the mother confronted him about hygiene. Each time he entered the home, it reeked of someone who had abandoned showering.
As Benson lay unconscious, deputies caught Hall near the home shortly after the 911 call at 10:44 p.m. Family members said deputies speeding to the scene almost hit Hall in the middle of Secrest Drive and they used a Taser to subdue him.
Benson died almost four days later at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on April 28. Her face was so swollen and bruised as to be almost unrecognizable.
The scrawl of a doctor’s handwriting on a sheet attached to the autopsy report reduced the final days of her life to a few words: “facial and traumatic brain injury w/ facial fracture and brain contusion with severe brain edema.”
Another form added eight words.
“Her son is the suspect in this homicide.”
The NFL, in my opinion, should’ve done a better job in making sure they took care of this kid.
— Tony Benson
Some family members don’t think Hall understands his mother is dead. He pleaded not guilty to murder and is jailed at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown L.A. on $1-million bail. Cary Hall and Coleman tried to visit. De’von Hall refused.
In recent years, Utah State teammates felt Hall would snap. They figured a random person would be the victim. But his mother? He didn’t love anyone more. The friends are scared by the thought of what might happen next.
“If he’s in jail with the regular population, he’s going to end up getting killed or killing someone else,” said Dionte Holloway, who played at Utah State with Hall. “De’von mentally is gone. That’s not the De’von I know, that’s not the De’von I went to school with, that’s not my friend, that’s somebody who was out of their mind.”
They search for answers. Family members believe Hall suffered a head injury with the Colts in 2009 that changed his personality. A team spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.
“The NFL, in my opinion, should’ve done a better job in making sure they took care of this kid,” Tony Benson said.
At Utah State, former defensive coordinator Mark Johnson, Copp and several teammates didn’t recall Hall sustaining a concussion. But one of the teammates, Gregg Clark, cautioned that “a lot of things go under the table” when head injuries are involved.
A separate theory circulated among some teammates had Hall attending a party in Miami while he played for the Buccaneers and smoking weed laced with cocaine, heroin or another hard drug. They believe the episode triggered an addiction.
No evidence has been made public to support any of these theories or further explain his behavior.
In a brief court hearing June 28, Hall’s public defender, Ashley Morgan Price, told L.A. County Superior Court Judge Yvette Verastegui that she doesn’t believe her client is competent. The judge suspended criminal proceedings and ordered a mental evaluation.
Hall and Price didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“In the final analysis, it’s about De’von, but, in reality, it’s about Alecia and what she did for her family,” Tony Benson said. “She’s an angel and we lost her.”
That’s not the only loss. Coaches, teammates, family members, friends all speak about Hall as if he’s dead.
That’s not my nephew. He’s not a regular person. This was someone who possessed De’von’s body. His mother didn’t have a chance.
Seven married couples from the same New Jersey shore town, including a rabbi and his wife, now face charges that they misrepresented their income to get a combined $2 million in public welfare benefits they weren’t entitled to.
Three couples were arrested late Tuesday in Lakewood after four couples, including Rabbi Zalmen Sorotzkin, of Congregation Lutzk, and his wife, Tzipporah, were arrested Monday.
The three couples – Yitzchock and Sora Kanarek; Chaim and Liatt Ehrman; and William and Faigy Friedman – were released without bail after appearing through video conference in state court Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear if they had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.
Prosecutors say the three couples misrepresented their income and then collected more than $674,000 in benefits. They say the couples failed to disclose income from numerous sources on applications for Medicaid, housing, Social Security and food assistance benefits.
The state and federal investigation centers on Lakewood, which is home to a large and growing ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
Yitzchock Kanarek previously ran a school in Lakewood for special-needs students that closed in 2015 after facing more than $250,000 in federal and state tax liens, according to public records.
“It really bothers me when people take advantage of programs like this,” Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles told the Asbury Park Press. “I have a waiting list of Section 8 (housing assistance) vouchers of maybe 2,000 families that really need it. I hate to see things like this.”
Duvi Honig, who leads the Lakewood-based Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, told the newspaper that thousands of Jewish families in Lakewood need public assistance but some are tempted to take more than they need.
“The pressure of the community overhead – especially the (cost of) private schooling – is unsustainable,” he said. “People are forced to find ways to bend the system.”
Lakewood is the state’s fastest growing town and has more than 100 private religious schools. The population increase has intensified concern over how public money is spent and sparked complaints from neighboring communities that say they face overly aggressive solicitation from real estate agents looking to find homes for the Jewish community.
The town had nearly 93,000 residents in 2010, up from about 32,000 more than a decade earlier, according to census figures. Lakewood officials estimate the population is now closer to 120,000 residents.
In the arrests Monday, the Sorotzkins were charged with collecting more than $338,000 in benefits prosecutors say they weren’t entitled to. Their attorney said they will plead not guilty.
They were charged in state court along with Mordechai and Jocheved Breskin, who prosecutors said collected more than $585,000 in benefits they weren’t entitled to.
Zalmen Sorotzkin’s brother, Mordechai, and his wife, Rachel, were one of two couples charged in separate federal complaints with conspiring to fraudulently obtain Medicaid benefits.
They made more than $1 million in 2012 and in 2013, the complaint alleges, but still received more than $96,000 in Medicaid benefits, including $22,000 to pay for medical expenses when their sixth child was born in November 2013.
“Everything is going to work out and all will be vindicated,” said Rachel Sorotzkin’s attorney, Fred Zemel.
According to a federal complaint, Yocheved and Shimon Nussbaum hid their income by creating companies that were run by relatives on paper but that the couple actually controlled. They made a total of $1.8 million in 2013, but still received Medicaid, food benefits and housing assistance into 2014, prosecutors said.
The feud between Palestinian factions that has led to an electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip has also brought about a serve shortage of medicine and medical equipment in the Hamas-run enclave, a rights watchdog said this week, detailing a worsening humanitarian situation.
According to information given to Physicians for Human Rights (PHRI) Israel by Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, “one-third of essential medicines and more than 270 medical equipment items for operating rooms and intensive care units can no longer be obtained in the Health Ministry’s storerooms and in Gaza hospitals.“
The organization said the cause of the shortages is the Palestinian Authority’s slashing of funds sent to Gaza, including for healthcare operations and medical supplies.
The PA, according to information given to PHRI, used to pay $4 million monthly for the regular operations of 13 government hospitals and 54 primary care centers. In April it was down to $2.3 million, and in May it fell to just $500,000, the organization said.
In April, the Israeli daily Haaretz quoted a senior adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas who said Ramallah is slashing the health care budget for Gaza as part of the series of measures meant to coerce Hamas to relinquish some control of the Strip and give it back to the PA.
“We realize this sounds cruel, but in the end, after 10 years of the split and Hamas rule in the Strip, [Hamas] must decide whether it will control things in every sense, including ongoing expenses, or let the Palestinian government rule,” the adviser said.
On Sunday, Israeli ministers decided to heed a request by Abbas to slash the amount of electricity provided to Gaza, significantly ramping up tensions with Hamas, which warned the move could lead to an outbreak of violence.
Both Israel and the PA charge that Hamas would have the money to supply Gaza’s power needs if the group didn’t expend a large part of its resources on armament and preparation for future conflict with the Jewish state.
With the cuts, the amount of power the Strip’s 2 million residents receive will be cut by around 45-60 minutes a day from the 4-6 hours they currently get.
The power cuts could hit hospitals particularly hard, with little fuel to keep emergency generators running.
According to a Gaza health ministry document given to The Times of Israel by PHRI, the stocks of fuel to power hospital generators will run out by mid-July.
The monthly average fuel needed to meet the demand for the ministry’s hospitals, the document states, is 430,000 liters per month, costing approximately $450,000.
According to the physicians group, there is also a severe lack of medicines and equipment in the Palestinian enclave.
PHRI, quoting statistics from the Hamas-run ministry, said most cancer patients are not able to receive proper treatment because of shortfalls.
One of the hardest hit groups due to the medicine shortage are 321 patients suffering from the chronic lung disease of cystic fibrosis, mostly children, who can’t get the relevant pills and vitamins.
“In the Gaza Strip, there are 321 patients who require 40,000 Creon pills, but the storerooms are completely empty and the supply level reached zero,” said Ashraf A-Shanti, Chair of the Association of Cystic Fibrosis Patients in Gaza, according to a statement released by PHRI.
The electricity crisis in the Strip also means the patients cannot use their breathing regulating devices due to the frequent power failures.
In addition, some 240 infants with developmental deficits have no more access to therapeutic milk formula, to treat complicated severe acute malnutrition, which “is essential to the infants’ physiological and cognitive development,” PHRI said.
PHRI Executive Director Ran Goldstein told The Times of Israel on Monday that he believes Israel is also partly responsible for the current crises in Gaza.
“The responsibility is not only on one side.The fact that the PA isn’t transferring funding for the health system is their responsibility, but the fact that Israel still controls, together with Egypt, every port in Gaza…imports and exports, it still has a lot of responsibility,” he said.
“Israel can choose a better approach that can save innocent people from dying,” he added.
The Jewish state, he said, can provide funds, medicines, electric power and open Gaza to the outside world for “urgent” humanitarian help.
Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip, which Jerusalem says is needed to keep materials that could be used for terror activity or in fighting against Israel. The border authority allows in humanitarian goods and also gives some Gazans permits to enter Israel for medical care.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Defense Ministry Branch that deals with Palestinian Civilian Affairs, emphasized “the list of equipment entering Gaza is run by the Palestinian Authority and is decided in accordance to their considerations.”
COGAT argued that Israel works in the background “to promote civil policies in order to assist the residents of Gaza.”
This, despite the fact, COGAT said, Hamas “continuously attempts to take advantage of the civil steps promoted by Israel,” including using the permits given to Gazans “to transfer terror funds, weapons, instructions and intelligence to perform terror attacks in Israel.”
According to COGAT, in 2016, 30,768 crossings were coordinated from the Gaza Strip into Israel for medical attention. In 2017, so far, 13,530 crossings were coordinated from the Gaza Strip into Israel for medical attention, and in June that number is 732.
In April, the Shin bet security service said it had caught two sisters, one of whom is a cancer sufferer, attempting to sneak explosives from the Strip into Israel, disguising it in medicine.
Nearly 900 ‘at risk of death’
Gaza’s health ministry spokesperson Dr. Ashraf al Qidra warned Monday of “dangerous consequences for the sick and general public health” in Gaza should the reduction in electricity take place.
According to the ministry’s document given to The Times of Israel by PHRI, 212 ICU and NICU patients as well as another 647 patients on hemodialysis “are at risk of death” due to the power shortages.
In Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, according to the document, over 1,000 “elective” surgeries are currently postponed.
Gazans are also dependent on water desalination plants to provide them with drinking water. Without power, the operation of these plants will be further compromised.
Housing Minister Yoav Galant, who is a member of the Israeli security cabinet, told The Times of Israel during a briefing with reporters on Monday that Israel is “willing to get any kind of support” from the international community to ease the humanitarian crisis.
“We have to make sure there is enough water and medicine in the Gaza Strip. We are doing our best,” he said, without elaborating on what exactly Israel is doing.
(JTA) — Alan Dershowitz is advising a Muslim group accused of promoting female genital mutilation to instead adopt a variation of the Jewish circumcision ritual.
Dershowitz, the retired Harvard law professor who has worked on a number of high-profile cases, was hired recently as a consultant to a team defending two Detroit-area doctors and a wife one of the doctors who are charged with conspiring to perform female genital mutilation on two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota.
The Associated Press first reported that Dershowitz and a Michigan-based defense attorney, Mayer Morganroth, were hired by Dawat-e-Hadiyah, an international organization representing a small Shia Muslim sect.
Dershowitz will not be representing the defendants in court. On Monday, he told JTA that he is advising the group as to how its followers can fulfill its religious legal obligations while protecting the rights of young girls and staying within the bounds of U.S. law. Dershowitz stressed that he opposes female genital mutilation, which often involves the removal of parts or all of a girl’s labia or clitoris.
Instead, Dershowitz is advising the group to adopt a ritual in which the girl undergoing the rite will receive a pinprick that draws a drop of blood from the clitoral hood. Men who convert to Judaism and have already been circumcised undergo a similar ritual, called “hatafat dam brit,” which is the basis for Dershowitz’s suggestion.
“I am categorically opposed to female genital mutilation and I agreed to consult with this group in order to help end it,” Dershowitz said. “If that happens, it will be a win-win. It will help protect young girls and it will help protect religious rights.”
Dershowitz, whose high-profile clients included O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow, has recently challenged critics of President Donald Trump who claim the president should be charged with obstructing justice if testimony by former FBI Director James Comey is true.
In his interview with JTA, Dershowitz clarified that he opposes many of Trump’s actions, but that the president has the legal authority to stop the FBI investigation into conversations that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had with the Russian ambassador. Comey testified that he felt “directed” by Trump to do just that.
On Friday, Trump retweeted a tweet by Dershowitz saying, “We should stop talking about obstruction of justice. No plausible case. We must distinguish crimes from pol[itical] sins.”
Dershowitz said he doesn’t like the fact that Trump fired Comey nor had a private meeting with the former FBI chief.
“I’m not defending Trump or the administration,” he said. “I’m defending civil liberties. I don’t want to see statutes expanded beyond all reason.”
(JTA) — A Jewish group’s appeal led hundreds of radio listeners to provide information about mass graves and burial sites of Jews to a Catholic radio station that has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism.
Some 300 calls have been received by the call center at Poland’s Radio Maryja with information about sites of mass executions of Jews, stolen tombstones and unknown hiding places of Jews during the Holocaust, according to the From the Depths group, which made the appeal for information last week and again Wednesday on Radio Maryja.
The hosting at Radio Maryja’s studios of Jonny Daniels, the London-born Israeli Jew who founded the From the Depths group in 2013, follows a controversy over a visit last year by the station’s director, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, to the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw.
Rydzyk spoke there with Ambassador Anna Azari in a meeting that liberal watchdog groups said was inappropriate in light of accusations that Radio Maryja and Rydzyk personally promote anti-Semitic hate speech.
According to a U.S. State Department report from 2008, “Radio Maryja is one of Europe’s most blatantly anti-Semitic media venues.” A Council of Europe report stated that Radio Maryja has been “openly inciting to anti-Semitism for several years.”
In July 2007, Rydzyk was recorded making “a number of anti-Semitic slurs,” the report also stated. Rydzyk said Jews were pushing the Polish government to pay exorbitant private property restitution claims, and that Poland’s president was “in the pocket of the Jewish lobby,” according to the report.
Daniels disagrees with individuals and groups that believe this background should preclude cooperation by Jewish groups with Radio Maryja.
“More often than not this so-called Polish anti-Semitism is based on a lack of knowledge and openness,” Daniels said.
He was interviewed on Radio Maryja, which has millions of listeners, for the first at the end of 2016. Daniels’ group has received some 200 emails and phone calls with information on execution and burial sites, which the group attempts to preserve.
In a statement, Rydzyk claimed the airing of content that is deemed anti-Semitic by his radio station represents its commitment to free speech.
“After 50 years of communism, our radio is the only live radio in Poland where whoever wants can call and be put on air, every opinion is welcome. This creates an honesty and openness,” he said. “Sometimes there are controversial opinions, but we still let people talk.”