Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Martin Colmans was selling furniture in the Albert Cuyp market in Amsterdam when he was stabbed in the thigh. His son, Sharon, ran out to help him and protect his mother and was stabbed in his back and chest. But he succeeded in preventing the stabber from getting to his mother, Orly.
Tarik Ghani, the Muslim man who stabbed him, ran a hookah shop in the market. The victim said that he noticed a sudden change in his attacker after he returned from the Middle East and was often seen, “reading the Koran.” “He stopped talking to us, shaved his head and prayed all the time. He also began giving us nasty looks.” Other vendors in the Cuyp market stated that Tarik hated Jews. There had been warnings that he might turn violent and attack someone. Those warnings were however disregarded.
Instead of sending him to prison, a Dutch judge sentenced Tarik to a year of psychiatric treatment. The Colmans had asked the judge to take his anti-Semitism into account, instead the judge accepted Tarik’s claim that he was mentally ill and had been hearing voices. There was no evidence for this claim.
“Many people who are psychotic read the Koran,” a psychiatrist explained.
Tarik hadn’t been obsessively reading the Koran before the attack because he was a terrorist, but because he was psychotic.
Around the same time as a Dutch court was exempting Tarik from responsibility for his anti-Semitic attack, a French court was giving Kobili Traore another pass for the brutal murder of Sarah Halimi.
Sarah, the elderly head of a Jewish nursery school, was brutally attacked in her apartment. Her brother had said that the killer had previously called them, “dirty Jews”. The police had been called before the attack. They had heard Kobili loudly chanting verses from the Koran. Reinforcements were called, but the police did nothing. Meanwhile Kobili climbed through the window into Sarah’s apartment.
The Muslim beat her until her nightgown was covered in blood while shouting, “Allahu Akbar”, verses from the Koran and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Neighbors called the police and described what was going on. The police did nothing. At some point during the brutal assault, the killer crushed Sarah’s skull with a telephone. Finally, he shouted that his victim was “mad and about to commit suicide”.
And then he threw her out the window and returned to his apartment.
That was in 2017. Since then multiple courts have ruled that Kobili Traore was not responsible for his actions because cannabis had been found in his system. He had been smoking pot. And that had allegedly brought on some sort of psychotic episode that prevented him from being responsible for his actions. Like Tarik Ghani, he is likely to remain in a hospital until the shrinks decide to set him loose.
Kobili has had three psychiatric reviews, none of whom agree with each other, but all claim he was unfit.
But trying to belatedly make Sarah’s murder look like a suicide showed that he knew what he was doing. He had calculatedly cased her apartment early in the day and had calculated exactly where to drop her.
The cover-up of the murder began from before it even happened. Instead of taking Kobili to prison, the cops took him to a hospital. A urine test found cannabis in his system. And the narrative was set. And yet the killer admitted that he had been motivated by his hatred of Sarah’s Jewishness.
He told investigators, “When I saw the Torah and menorah in her home, I felt oppressed.” By the Torah, he likely meant a copy of the bible in his victim’s home. (His reference to the menorah that Jews light on Chanukah has been unhelpfully mistranslated as “chandelier” from the French by the media.)
The psychiatrist argued that Kobili could be both anti-Semitic and insane because “during delusional episodes among Muslims, an anti-Semitic theme is common.” The psychiatrist was making the case that the killer wasn’t guilty because Muslims are inherently anti-Semitic, and he was acting on that inherent anti-Semitism, but wasn’t truly in control of his actions because he had smoked 10 joints beforehand.
Muslims are predisposed by their religion and culture to hate Jews, but Kobili would not have done so unless he had suffered a psychotic break. That argument simultaneously characterizes Muslims as anti-Semitic, while excusing anti-Semitic murders as a form of mental illness uniquely suffered by Muslims.
Homicidal Muslim anti-Semitism was diagnosed as a form of mental illness. Sarah had been killed because of “the fact that she was Jewish”, but the killer was not responsible for his actions.
Meanwhile, what Kobili did before the brutal murder, besides smoke pot, was ignored.
Before the murder, Kobili had visited the Omar Mosque in Paris whose previous imam, Mohammed Hammami, had been expelled from the country for promoting terrorism and anti-Semitism. The mosque had been set up by Tabligh Jamaat, an Islamist group at the center of terrorism in France. It’s been estimated that the majority of Islamic terrorists in France have been linked to the movement.
Many Tabligh Jamaat members joined Al Qaeda. That includes Zacarias Moussaoui, the 20th hijacker, and shoe bomber Richard Reid. Al Qaeda was able to use the Islamist organization as cover for its members. And it’s far from the only Islamic terrorist organization that Tabligh Jamaat has been associated with.
Tabligh Jamaat is also notorious for recruiting troubled young men and subjecting them to extensive brainwashing. In one report, a Malian, the same country of origin as the killer, described recruits being kept awake for long periods of chanting and praying until they lose touch with reality. That has ominous similarities to the behavior of Kobili Traore, obsessively chanting, on the night that he murdered Sarah.
Sarah’s killer had visited an anti-Semitic mosque linked to a cult-like Islamist movement that recruits troubled young men, as Kobili had been recruited in prison, and drives them into frenzies while teaching them that their duty is to conquer the world for Islam. And that’s exactly what Kobili did in Paris.
There is a tragic and ugly pattern.
In 2015, Farid Haddouche attacked Rabbi Acher Amoyal, his son, and another man, who were leaving a Marseilles synagogue on the Sabbath. Farid had shouted, “Allahu Akbar” and stabbed one of the men in the abdomen. He was deemed unfit to stand trial after a psychiatric evaluation even though his mother admitted that he had no history of mental illness. But he had been drunk at the time. Protests by the Jewish community eventually led to an actual trial and he was sentenced to four years in prison.
In 2003, Sébastien Selam, a Jewish DJ, was stabbed to death by Adel Amastaibou. The Muslim killer told the cops that it was the will of Allah. He boasted to his mother, “I killed a Jew! I will go to paradise.”
Prior to the murder, Adel had assaulted a Rabbi and threatened a pregnant Jewish woman. But he was found unfit to stand trial on account of mental illness.
Like Kobili, Adel had been getting high. His drug of choice though was hashish.
Adel was hospitalized, but in a foreshadowing of just how little that will mean in the cases of Kobili and Tarik, he was given passes to leave the hospital and go off to parties.
It’s not just in Europe where homicidal Islamic anti-Semitism gets a psychiatric pass. Ahmed Ferhani, who plotted to bomb a New York City synagogue, became a popular progressive cause. The Nation claimed that he was a mentally ill man who had been entrapped by the cops. After a suicide attempt, the Center for Constitutional Rights held a vigil on behalf of the murderous anti-Semite.
The toxic combination of substance abuse, Ferhani had sold drugs to finance the Islamic killing spree, allegations of mental illness, and a plot to kill Jews, is becoming ubiquitous. As is the general effort to whitewash lone Islamic terrorists as being mentally ill because their behavior appears irrational.
There can be a thin line between crazy and evil. And some behavior that isn’t aberrant in the Muslim world, for example Kobili’s fear of demons, can in our context resemble mental illness. But, as Jamie Glazov noted in his recent book, Jihadist Psychopath, there isn’t a necessary contradiction there.
The rush to exonerate killers on the grounds of mental illness because they have alcohol or cannabis in their system, because their brutal crimes defy reason, and because it is easier than following the links to places like the Omar Mosque that the authorities don’t want to go, is encouraging Islamic violence.
In 2016, in Strasbourg, France, Chalom Levy was stabbed by an attacker shouting, “Allahu Akbar”. Levy was wearing a ‘kippa’, a Jewish religious skullcap on his head, and had been preparing for Shabbat.
Levy, who had previously rushed into a burning car to save a woman trapped inside, was able to fight off the attacker and run for help. His attempted killer was arrested outside a café, Levy had escaped to.
The authorities and the media rushed to describe the attacker as mentally ill. And indeed, he had previously spent time in a psychiatric hospital after he had stabbed another Jewish man in 2010.
Instead of sending him to prison, he had been deemed unfit to stand trial and had been hospitalized.
This is what happens when Muslims murdering Jews ceases to be a crime and instead becomes a mental problem that a bit of time playing with dolls, talking about your dreams, and gobbling pills can solve.
The time will come when the attempted killer will stab someone else. And they may not survive.
If, as Tarik’s psychiatrist claimed, “many people who are psychotic read the Koran” and, as Kobili’s shrink insisted, “during delusional episodes among Muslims, an anti-Semitic theme is common”, then there’s no meaningful distinction between Islamic terrorism and mental illness. And if you characterize terrorism against Jews as a form of mental illness, then no Muslim terrorist should ever go to jail.
Murdering Jews or anyone in the name of Islam is not a form of mental illness. It’s genocide.