US woman drives car into antisemitic group’s building, mistaking it for Jewish school

Suspect says she rammed Indianapolis house on purpose after watching news about Israel-Hamas war; separately, official says Jordanian arrested in Texas was plotting attack on Jews

The scene after a woman backed her car into a building used by the 'Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge,' having mistaken it for a Jewish school, November 4, 2023 (screen grab via CBS 4  used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
The scene after a woman backed her car into a building used by the 'Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge,' having mistaken it for a Jewish school, November 4, 2023 (screen grab via CBS 4 used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A woman was detained after she drove her car into an Indianapolis residential building used by an antisemitic group on Saturday, mistakenly believing it was a Jewish school.

Ruba Almaghtheh, 34, drove her vehicle into a house used by a sect of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which the Anti-Defamation League calls “extreme and antisemitic,” and has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A local Fox News affiliate said Almaghtheh told police she drove her car into what she referred to as the “Israel school” on purpose after watching news coverage of Israel’s war against Hamas, and that she had referred to “her people back in Palestine.”

The building had a “semblance of a Star of David on the front door” and the words “Hebrew Israelite” on a sign, apparently leading the suspect to believe that the building was connected to the Jewish community or Israel, according to the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council.

Fox 59 said the building housed the “Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge,” and several adults and children were inside when Almaghtheh backed her vehicle into it on Saturday morning.

The outlet said Almaghtheh was arrested on a preliminary charge of criminal recklessness, while CBS 4 said she faced a preliminary charge of intimidation, which would be a felony if the threat is for an act of terrorism.

The incident came amid spiking antisemitism as Israel fights the Hamas terror group in the wake of the terror group’s murderous assault on southern Israel communities last month.

In Houston, a Jordanian man was arrested last month for “plotting to attack a Jewish gathering,” a law enforcement source told CNN.

The report said a federal judge in a court order noted that Sohaib Abuayyash, 20,  had discussed “martyrdom.”

CNN cited the order of detention pending trial document filed on October 24, in which a judge wrote that Abuayyash “has viewed specific and detailed content posted by radical organizations on the internet including lessons on how to construct bombs or explosive devices; and that Defendant has made statements to others that support the killing of individuals of particular religious faiths.”

Abuayyash had also been studying how to build bombs and posted online about “killing Jews” and about the stabbing death of a six-year-old Muslim boy in Illinois by his landlord, a murder being investigated as a hate crime.

Abuayyash, who was in the US on an expired nonimmigrant visa but had applied for asylum, was ordered detained, pending trial.

The report said that the FBI had been investigating him from as early as August after he was identified as researching weapons online.

Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that the Israel-Hamas war has raised the threat of attacks against Americans in the United States to a whole new level, while antisemitism in the United States has soared to “historic” heights.

An antisemitic sign at a pro-Palestinian protest of NYU students and others in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park on October 25, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

Wray said the most significant threat was to Jewish and Muslim communities in the United States. He noted that while Jews account for less than 3% of the US population, around 60% of religious-based hate crimes target Jews.

“This is a threat that is reaching, in some way, sort of historic levels,” Wray said.

“The Jewish community is targeted by terrorists really across the spectrum — homegrown violent extremists; foreign terrorist organizations, both Sunni and Shia; domestic violent extremists,” Wray said.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing some 1,400 people and seizing over 240 hostages. The vast majority of those killed were civilians, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

Israel, in response, has vowed to destroy Hamas, which rules Gaza. It says it is targeting all areas where Hamas operates while seeking to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas claims over 9,770 people have been killed in Gaza. The figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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