Two Americans have come under attack in the usually-safe United Arab Emirates, though officials there claim the woman in the niqab suspected in both crimes is not linked to any terror organizations.
Whereas the phrase “lone wolf attack” is popular with U.S. authorities, the UAE is calling the recent crimes in their country “a personal terrorist act.”
Kindergarten teacher Ibolya Ryan, 47, was stabbed to death by a veiled woman in the bathroom of a posh mall in Abu Dhabi last week. She leaves behind three kids.
The same woman is accused of planting a nail bomb outside a 55-year-old Egyptian-American doctor’s home, according to The National. Abu Dhabi officials defused the bomb and sent the man and his family to a hotel under guard.
The bomb was located by his 13-year-old son, who luckily didn’t touch it and notified his dad.
The suspect in custody, caught through the use of surveillance video despite her attempts to cloak her identity, is an Emirati national in her 30s, reportedly of Yemeni descent.
“The investigations show that the accused has recently logged into some terrorist websites through which she acquired the terrorism ideology and learnt how to manufacture explosives. After scrutiny, the seized materials used in manufacturing were shown to be primitive,” a source told The National. “She selected her victims randomly.”
Crime is low in the UAE. The government has a low tolerance for extremist activities, recently including CAIR and European Muslim organizations on its terror list.
The U.S. Embassy sent out a message to citizens at the end of October warning that an anonymous posting on a jihadist website had encouraged attacks on American teachers and international schools in the Middle East.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters last week that she didn’t want to “jump to conclusions.”
A new message to citizens was sent out Friday.
“The authorities stated their commitment to bring the perpetrator to justice and to uphold the reputation of the UAE as a country of security and safety. The U.S. Embassy is engaged at the senior-most levels of the UAE Government to ensure the safety and security of U.S. citizens in the UAE,” the Embassy message says.
“Building on our security message of December 3, we use this opportunity to remind U.S. citizens to keep their security and situational awareness levels high. We suggest that all U.S. citizens be vigilant of their surroundings and events unfolding around them. Vary your routines and schedules.”
The National, the English-language newspaper owned by the UAE government, has given extensive coverage to the attacks and even started an online condolence book for Ryan.
The paper ran an article this morning on renewed debate over whether the niqab should be worn in public:
A handful of members from the Federal National Council said the incident was not enough to call for a nationwide ban of the niqab, and all said that wearing it was a personal choice.
Ahmed Al Mansouri, a Dubai FNC member and political analyst and founder of the Crossroads of Civilisations Museum, said that even though the niqab was a cultural garment and held no religious significance in his opinion, wearing it was a personal choice that could not be denied.
“In Abu Dhabi, the face veil is associated with culture, not religion,” he said. “Some don’t want to admit it, but it is cultural.”
…Almost half of the FNC’s female members, however, suggested taking precautionary measures to avoid a re-occurrence of that type of incident.
Dr Mona Al Bahar, also a Dubai member and a sociologist, said the UAE should not suffer from one person’s wrongdoing. She said that the public should not ponder on how the niqab was abused, but how such a crime could happen and the shock that it was perpetrated by a UAE national.
“Yes it tainted the image of the niqab,” she said. “There can be measurements to ensure it doesn’t happen again,”
She suggested a possible check at mall entrances of veiled women to prove their identity.