Amsterdam kosher eatery assailant is reportedly ex-fighter from Syria

Damascus-born Saleh Ali released from custody; hasn’t been charged with a hate crime, only vandalism and theft

The exterior of the HaCarmel restaurant in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Google Maps)
The exterior of the HaCarmel restaurant in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Google Maps)

The man released by Dutch police hours after he attacked a kosher restaurant while waving a Palestinian flag is reportedly a Damascus-born ex-combatant in Syria’s civil war.

GeenStijl reported Wednesday that the perpetrator of the December 7 assault in southern Amsterdam is Saleh Ali, who has said that he participated in the war fighting against the Islamic State terrorist group, according to information obtained by the news site.

Police were aware of this information when they released him several hours after two officers arrested him outside the restaurant, the report said.

A video of the incident shows Ali holding a Palestinian flag and wearing a Palestinian keffiyah on his head as he smashes the window and kicks down the restaurant’s doors as passersby and two police officers look on. The officers wait until he breaks into the restaurant before intervening. They pause as he returns to the street from the restaurant’s interior holding an Israeli flag that he took from the eatery. He throws it at their feet. They then overpower ALi and arrest him.

The incident happened one day after US President Donald Trump signed a document recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Two Jewish buildings in Sweden, including a synagogue, were targeted by arsonists using firebombs in the days that followed, local police said. Demonstrations featuring chants about killing Jews were held in The Hague, Vienna, Berlin and London. Calls glorifying Palestinian terrorists were heard at a rally Saturday in Paris.

The perpetrator of the restaurant attack, whose lawyer has denied that his client acted out of any anti-Semitic motives, was charged with vandalism and theft, according to De Telegraaf, with no mention in that paper’s reporting of an aggravated element of a hate crime. Thus he was released shortly after his arrest.

A spokesman for the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, a Hague-based watchdog on anti-Semitism, wrote on Facebook that it was “shocking” that the perpetrator was released in light of the information reported by GeenStijl.

The center, or CIDI, has called for the perpetrator, who is on a temporary staying permit, to be tried on hate crime charges.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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