Pittsburgh shooting is latest in series of recent attacks on Jewish institutions

From Seattle to Toulouse to Istanbul, attackers, whether neo-Nazis or jihadists, have repeatedly targeted synagogues, schools and community centers

A man kneels to light a candle beneath a police cordon outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, after a shooting there left 11 people dead on October 27, 2018 (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
A man kneels to light a candle beneath a police cordon outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, after a shooting there left 11 people dead on October 27, 2018 (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

As news spread of the shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Jews — and Americans of all backgrounds — across the country reeled from the shock.

With at least 11 confirmed casualties, the Anti-Defamation League “believe[s] this is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

The alleged gunman, a 46-year-old white male named Robert Bowers, shouted “All these Jews need to die,” according to reports.

As details continue to emerge about the shooting, here is a list of some of the attacks on Jewish institutions in the US and around the world in recent years.

In the United States

The 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting

On August 10, 1999, Buford O’Neal Furrow walked into the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles and opened fire. He fired 70 shots that wounded five people, including three children. No one was killed at the JCC. Furrow then drove away and later fatally shot a Filipino-American mail worker, Joseph Illeto. The gunman eventually walked into an FBI office and surrendered. Furrow was a white supremacist with ties to Aryan Nations, a neo-Nazi white supremacist group. Furrow, who said he hoped his attack would inspire others to target Jews, had considered attacking other Los Angeles Jewish organizations, including the Skirball Cultural Center and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He was sentenced to life in prison.

A police vehicle near the location of a shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas, Sunday, April 13, 2014. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images via JTA)

2006 Seattle Jewish Federation shooting

On July 28, 2006, Naveed Afzal Haq shot six women at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, killing one. He had entered by forcing a 14-year-old girl at gunpoint to buzz the building intercom. Once inside, he shot six people and called the police to tell them he had taken hostages. Haq eventually surrendered to the police. He killed one woman, Pamela Waechter, and wounded five others. People who were inside the federation said Haq shouted about being a Muslim who was angry at Israel. However, some later suggested that mental illness was to blame. Haq was not a frequent worshiper at mosque and at one point had converted to Christianity. He received a life sentence.

2009 US Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting

On June 10, 2009, James Wenneker von Brunn entered the museum in Washington, DC, and fatally shot security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns. Two other security guards shot back, wounding von Brunn before he was able to shoot anyone else. Wenneker was a white supremacist and Holocaust denier who had self-published a book in which he praised Adolf Hitler. He had been arrested in 1981 for attempted kidnapping and hostage taking at the Federal Reserve building. He died at the age of 89 before receiving a sentence.

Police respond to an active shooter situation at the Tree of Life synagogue on Wildins Avenue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, October 27, 2018. (Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

2014 Overland Park JCC shooting

On April 13, 2014, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. shot people in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas, and fired shots into the JCC building. He then left in his car and went to a nearby Jewish retirement community, Village Shalom, where he also shot at people in a parking lot. Miller, a neo-Nazi and a former Ku Klux Klan member, had intended to target Jews, but the three fatalities were non-Jews visiting the JCC or assisted-living facility. He was sentenced to death and is currently on death row.

Around the world


On April 11, 2002, 21 people died in a suicide attack on the Ghriba synagogue, on the island of Djerba, in the south of the country. Among the dead were 14 Germans, five Tunisians and two French citizens. A tank truck driven by a Tunisian and filled with flammable gas blew up outside the synagogue, which is the oldest place of Jewish worship in Africa. The attack was claimed by al-Qaeda.

Brussels’ Grand Rabbi Albert Guigui speaks during a ceremony at Brussels’ Great Synagogue on June 2, 2014, following the May 24, 2014 fatal shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. (AFP Photo/Belga Photo/Laurie Dieffembaco)


On November 15, 2003, vehicles filled with explosives were used against two synagogues in Istanbul, Neve Shalom and Beth Israel, killing 30 and injuring 300. Five days later, the British consulate and an HSBC building came under attack. A Turkish cell of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the four attacks, which claimed a total of 63 lives.


On November 18, 2014, a terror attack by two Palestinians against a synagogue in western Jerusalem claimed five dead: three Israeli-Americans, one Israeli-Briton and a Druze policeman. The attack in the Har Nof neighborhood was the first ever against a Jewish place of worship in Jerusalem. Both attackers were shot dead by police.


On February 14, 2015, a Danish citizen of Palestinian origin, having pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, opened fire on a cultural center in Copenhagen that was hosting a freedom of speech conference, killing a filmmaker.

Later that night, he killed a 37-year old Jewish man who was standing guard outside a synagogue where a bar mitzvah was being held.

The attacker was then killed in a shootout with police.

A Jewish boy standing with flowers in front of an Israeli flag and flowers laid outside the Jewish Museum in Brussels, where a deadly shooting took place two days before, May 26, 2014. (AFP/Belga/Anthony Dehez)

Not just synagogues

In addition to synagogues, many other places of Jewish community life have been attacked over the years.

In France on March 19, 2012, 23-year old French-Algerian Islamist Mohammed Merah killed three children and a teacher at the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse.

In Belgium on May 24, 2014, a man opened fire in the lobby of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, killing four. The alleged killer, French-Algerian Mehdi Nemmouche, was arrested in France a week later and has been extradited to Belgium for trial.

In France, on January 9, 2015, four Jews were killed during a hostage-taking at the Hyper Cacher Jewish supermarket in Paris by jihadist Amedy Coulibaly.

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