A man wielding a machete entered a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday evening and began attacking diners, managing to injure four before he was shot and killed by police in a car chase. The restaurant, called Nazareth, is owned by an Israeli Christian Arab.
The attacker was identified as Mohamed Barry, 30, a Columbus resident. “[He] immediately began swinging a machete at customers and employees inside,” Columbus police Sgt. Rich Weiner said, CNN reported. “There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after as soon as he walked in, according to some of the witnesses.”
The four wounded were taken to Grant Medical Center. One of the victims, a 54-year-old man, was reported by Police Chief Kim Jacobs to be in critical but stable condition. A man and a woman, both aged 43, were in stable condition, and the fourth victim, a 43-year-old man, was treated and released from the hospital.
Barry fled in a vehicle after the machete attack, but police found him after and pulled him over, at which point he emerged from his car holding a machete and another knife. He lunged at the police officers and was shot and killed by another officer in a police cruiser.
Barry was a Somali native with criminal history, a law enforcement official told CNN. His vehicle had been flagged by authorities prior to the attack, leading Columbus police to call in federal anti-terrorism officials. The attack is currently under investigation by the FBI in attempts to discover Barry’s motive. One hypothesis is that Nazareth was targeted because Barry believed that its Israeli owner, Hany Baransi, was Jewish.
Baransi, whose family is Israeli, Christian, and Arab, said he believed his restaurant was targeted because he is Israeli, though he has been in the US for decades.
“Nazareth deli is owned by a Christian Israeli Arab. His restaurant has been a mainstay for my family and Columbus diners for over 25 years,” Larry Levine, a Columbus resident and founder of IsraelWatch, told Breaking Israel News. “It is a gathering place of all races, religions, and peoples who enjoy really good, fresh middle eastern food.”
“When you enter the restaurant you immediately see a picture over the counter of a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew all sitting together,” Levine continued. “That is the tone and tenor of the place.” The food, he added, is delicious as well.
He said the incident had badly shaken Barsani. “Hany Barsani is meeting with this staff now to decide whether or not he will reopen. He had just signed up to expand his restaurant to the space next door. Now he says that his staff is traumatized and he is not sure that they will return.”
Levine expressed horror at the attack, but not shock. “As someone who has been aware of and spoken out against Muslim extremism for years I am not surprised by it,” he said. He mentioned that a large community of Somali refugees is located five miles down the road from Columbus, and though it is “largely peaceful”, there is a “dark cloud over their community as some mosques have been radicalized.”
Levine, an Israel activist, said that while he doubted authorities would “officially” acknowledge that the incident was related to terror, the verdict was clear to him.
“I’m sure they won’t just come out and say it is terrorism,” he told Breaking Israel News. “They will make the typical statements like he was a loner, mentally disturbed, not representative of Islam, etc. That is what they will say. When this happens often as is now becoming the case ‘isolated instances’ are no longer isolated. Loners are no longer alone.”
The terror attack “was a punch in the gut to any Jew or Christian, who is living in the quiet Midwest, and thinks that they are immune from such things,” Levine said.
He said that the attack should serve as a wake-up call for American communities, which until now have felt relatively safe from the Islamic terror spreading in the Middle East and Europe. “Now that it appears that we have the reality that Israel, France, England and so many have faced around the world in our own backyard, it is time for our community to wake up.”
BREAKING NEWS – The FBI is now investigating a machete attack in Columbus Ohio last night as a potential lone wolf terror attack. 30-year old Somali national Mohamed Barry stormed into the Nazareth restaurant with a machete and randomly attacked people as they ate. Four people were injured in the attack but are expected to recover. Authorities are investigating the possibility that Barry was inspired by terrorist propaganda.For the latest join me tonight at 11 pm ET on Fox Business!
Posted by Lou Dobbs on Friday, February 12, 2016