OU Applauds US Justice Department Decision Recognizing 1994 Van Attack as Terrorist Act

Posted on December 11, 2000 In Press Releases

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the largest mainstream Orthodox Jewish organization in North America, today praised the recognition by the United States Department of Justice of the 1994 attack on the van carrying Yeshiva students on the Brooklyn Bridge as an act of terrorism. This heinous terrorist attack took place on March 1, 1994, and resulted in the mortal wounding of Ari Halberstam and left Nachum Sasonkin brain-injured for life. Rashid Baz was convicted of murder in the second degree and of 14 counts of attempted murder and was sentenced in Manhattan Criminal Court to 141 years in prison.

“The Orthodox Union has long believed that since there were other accessories to this heinous crime who assisted Baz destroy the evidence which included the arsenal of weapons, the spent shells, the bullet-ridden windshield and the car used in the attack, the reclassification of this crime as an act of terrorism was long overdue. We welcome the decision of the Justice Department to reclassify this attack as an act of terrorism. We have strongly supported Mrs. Devorah Halberstam in the quest to solve the outstanding issues of her son’s murder and the attack on the van. Her determination in the fight for justice in the interest of protecting the New York Jewish community from being targets of wide-ranging terrorism serves as an example to us all. The fact that this case has now been classified as an act of terrorism will help save lives,” said Betty Ehrenberg, Director of International and Communal Affairs.

“The threat of terrorism is global and includes even our region of the world. The fact that the attack on the yeshiva students on the Brooklyn Bridge was evidently planned as a reaction to events in the Middle East, and was motivated by Rashid Baz’s political views helped determine the decision to recognize this attack as an act of terrorism. It has important ramifications for the safety and well-being for our community as well as the broader American community and all those who cherish our freedom,” Ehrenberg added.