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Assassination of Meir Kahane

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Assassination of Meir Kahane
Part of terrorism in the United States
Location525 Lexington Avenue
New York Marriott East Side, Manhattan, New York City
Coordinates40°45′20″N 73°58′22″W / 40.75556°N 73.97278°W / 40.75556; -73.97278Coordinates: 40°45′20″N 73°58′22″W / 40.75556°N 73.97278°W / 40.75556; -73.97278
Date5 November 1990
(18 Cheshvan 5751)
Shortly after 9:00 p.m. (EST)
TargetMeir Kahane
Weapons.357-caliber pistol[1]
Deaths1 (Meir Kahane)
Injured3 (1 bystander, 1 police officer, the perpetrator)
PerpetratorEl Sayyid Nosair
The monument built in memory of Meir Kahane, in Kahane Park, in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, in the West Bank

Meir Kahane, an Israeli American rabbi and politician, was assassinated by El Sayyid Nosair on 5 November 1990, shortly after 9:00 p.m. at the New York Marriott East Side, a hotel in Manhattan, New York City.

At the time, it was believed that Nosair's assassination of Kahane was an antisemitic hate crime. In subsequent years, however, Nosair's actions have been re-evaluated as one of the earliest examples of Islamic terrorism in the United States.[2][3][4]


On the evening of 5 November 1990, Kahane gave a speech in the second-floor lecture hall of the New York Marriott East Side hotel, in Manhattan, at 525 Lexington Avenue, to an audience, most of whom were Orthodox Jews. After his speech, a crowd of well-wishers gathered around Kahane as he answered questions. Shortly after 9:00 p.m., a man disguised as an Orthodox Jew approached Kahane and shot him from close range with a .357-caliber pistol.[1] Kahane was hit in the neck by the gunfire and died of his wounds shortly thereafter.[5][6][7]

After shooting Kahane, the assassin fled from the hotel and reached Lexington Avenue, where, in front of a post office, he attempted to take over a taxi at gunpoint. Carlos Acosta, an on-duty postal police officer, drew his pistol and ordered the assassin to freeze.[1] Instead, the assassin turned toward the officer and shot and hit him in the chest. The officer returned fire, hitting the assassin in the chin. Afterwards, the officer arrested the man. Born in Egypt, he was American citizen El Sayyid Nosair, who had been living in Jersey City, New Jersey.[1]

Prosecution of Nosair

Nosair was charged with the murder of Kahane. During the legal proceedings, Nosair denied all charges against him. Although there were witnesses who identified Nosair as the assassin, Nosair was not convicted of Kahane's assassination, in part because Kahane's family had opposed the performing of an autopsy after the assassination and the extracting of the bullets. However, Nosair was convicted of assault, possession of an illegal firearm, and of shooting a United States Postal Inspection Service agent. Nosair was sentenced to 22 years of imprisonment, the maximum allowed.[8]

Conspiracy to free Nosair from prison

Nosair was to serve his sentence at Attica Correctional Facility, in New York. In 1993, the "Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel-Rahman, was arrested in New York. An investigation later revealed that a terrorist cell, led by Abdel-Rahman, conducted detailed surveillance of Attica facilities and that it had discussed plans to use a truck bomb attack, combined with an armed assault, to rescue Nosair from prison.[9]

Nosair's history and conviction of activity in a terrorist cell

Nosair was acquainted with several prominent radical Islamists prior to Kahane's assassination. While Osama bin Laden's mentor Abdullah Yusuf Azzam traveled the world to recruit fighters for the Soviet–Afghan War between 1985 and 1989, both Nosair and Clement Rodney Hampton-El accompanied him frequently on his United States tours. Hampton-El was later convicted for his involvement in the al-Qaeda-linked New York City landmark bomb plot.[10]

Nosair also helped operate the Al Kifah Refugee Center, a charity front for Maktab al-Khidamat in New York City, along with Mahmud Abouhalima, who would later be convicted for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.[11][12][13] Abdel-Rahman used the Al Kifah Refugee Center as the "de facto headquarters" for his terrorist cell.[14]

Between 1987 and 1989, double agent Ali Mohamed visited the Al Kifah Refugee Center and taught its occupants survival techniques and other related skills. While in town, Mohamed frequently stayed at Nosair's home. Nosair also participated in some of Mohamed's classes. For instance, in June 1989, Mohamed showed United States military training videos to Nosair and others at the Al Kifah Refugee Center and, in July 1989, the FBI monitored Mohamed giving Nosair and some of the future participants of the 1993 World Trade Center weapons training.[15][16][17]

In addition, bin Laden's personal secretary, Wadih el-Hage, visited Nosair in prison, and some of Nosair's defense fund in the Kahane trial was paid for by bin Laden himself.[18][19]

Informant Emad Salem, who helped the FBI prevent the New York City landmark bomb plot, spoke to Nosair in prison while its planning was underway, during which time Nosair revealed details of the plot. During this time, the FBI was monitoring Nosair's calls.[20] Investigators also linked Nosair and the Al Kifah Refugee Center to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing after going through Nosair's belongings.[21][22][23][24][25][19]

The investigation of Abdel-Rahman showed that Nosair belonged to his terrorist cell. Nosair was convicted for this, and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, plus 15 years. It was decided that, because Kahane's death was part of a "seditious conspiracy," Nosair could be convicted of killing Kahane.[26]

He was serving his sentence at the United States Penitentiary, Marion in Marion, Illinois, but is now serving at the United States Penitentiary, Allenwood in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.[27][28]

Nosair's confession of Kahane's assassination

Several years after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Nosair made a confession to federal agents of assassinating Kahane.[29]

Possible accomplices

In August 2010, the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post, which, in turn, quoted from the mid-August issue of Playboy, claimed that Nosair had two partners and that his original target was Israeli military figure and future Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "He added that on the night he shot Kahane dead, he was accompanied by two co-conspirators to the Marriot Hotel in Manhattan where Kahane was speaking – one of whom was also carrying a gun. The men, Bilal al-Kaisi of Jordan and Mohammed A. Salameh, a Palestinian illegal alien later involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, have never been charged for their part in the slaying."[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d McQuiston, John T. (6 November 1990). "Kahane Is Killed After Giving Talk in New York Hotel". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  2. ^ Ganor, Boaz (16 December 2018). "Terrorism or hate crime?". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  3. ^ Ebrahim, Zak; Giles, Jeff (4 September 2014). "I Grew Up the Son of an Islamic Jihadist". Time. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  4. ^ "An early Islamic terrorist in the U.S." Los Angeles Times. May 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  5. ^ Juergensmeyer, Mark (2003). Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence. University of California Press. p. 59.
  6. ^ Hamm, Mark S. (2007). Terrorism as Crime: From Oklahoma City to Al-Qaeda and Beyond. NYU Press, p. 29
  7. ^ Specter, Michael (6 November 1990). "Jewish Leader Kahane Slain in New York". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (30 January 1992). "Judge Gives Maximum Term in Kahane Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  9. ^ Burton, Fred; Stewart, Scott (18 June 2008). "The Destruction of Sarposa". Stratfor Worldview. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  10. ^ Friedman, Robert I. (17 March 1995). "The CIA's Jihad". New York. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  11. ^ Mitchell, Alison (11 April 1993). "After Blast, New Interest in Holy-War Recruits in Brooklyn". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Hosenball, Mark (30 September 2001). "War on Terror: The Road to September 11". Newsweek. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  13. ^ Sullivan, Elizabeth; Garrett, Amanda; Ruthchick, Joel (4 November 2001). "The Imam's Radical Ties". The Plain-Dealer.
  14. ^ Weaver, Mary Anne (May 1996). "Blowback". The Atlantic. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  15. ^ Miller, John; Stone, Michael; Mitchell, Chris (2002). The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It. New York: Hyperion. pp. 143–144.
  16. ^ Weiser, Benjamin; Risen, James (1 December 1998). "The Masking of a Militant". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  17. ^ Lance, Peter (2006). Triple Cross: How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI – and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him. New York: HarperCollins. p. 48.
  18. ^ Lance, Peter (2003). 1000 Years for Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI – The Untold Story. New York: Regan Books. pp. 50–51.
  19. ^ a b Miller, John; Stone, Michael; Mitchell, Chris (16 August 2002). "A Decade of Warnings". ABC News.
  20. ^ Miller, John; Stone, Michael; Mitchell, Chris (2002). The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It. New York: Hyperion. pp. 70–75.
  21. ^ Friedman, Robert I. (30 March 1993). "The CIA and the Sheik". The Village Voice.
  22. ^ Lance, Peter (2003). 1000 Years for Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI – The Untold Story. New York: Regan Books. pp. 34–35.
  23. ^ Sullivan, John; Neff, Joseph (21 October 2001). "Al-Qaeda Terrorist Duped FBI, Army". The News & Observer.
  24. ^ Sullivan, John; Neff, Joseph (13 November 2001). "An al Qaeda Operative at Fort Bragg". The News & Observer.
  25. ^ Waldman, Peter (26 November 2001). "The Infiltrator". The Wall Street Journal.
  26. ^ Jenkins, Brian (1 October 1995). "Defense: Juror 'bias' in terror verdicts". CNN. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  27. ^ "El Sayyid Nosair". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
  28. ^ O'Grady, Jim (23 September 2020). "The Sheikh". WNYC Studios. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  29. ^ a b Stern, Gil; Shefler, Stern (15 August 2010). "'Sharon was Kahane killer's target'". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 7 December 2020.

External links