Bergen County: Moonachie Police Investigate Racist Graffiti as a Hate Crime
Police in Moonachie are investigating the break-in and racist graffiti at the home of a pro football player on December 6 as a hate crime. Nikita Whitlock of the New York Giants returned to the apartment with his family to find “KKK” (see photo), three swastikas, and other crude racist slogans—the least offensive of which was “Go back to Africa”—scrawled on the walls. The word “Trump” was also written with a marker on a wall. The side door had been broken into, and several items were stolen. Whitlock said this was the second break-in of his home. The first occurred over the Thanksgiving weekend. There was no vandalism associated with that incident. Whitlock said in an interview that in addition to the Moonachie police investigation, he has also met with the FBI.
Egypt: Bombing at Coptic Christian Church in Cairo Kills 24
On December 11, a bombing at a Coptic Christian church in Cairo killed at least 24 people and wounded 49, many of them women and children. The bomb exploded during a Sunday service at a church in the same complex as St. Mark’s Cathedral and the headquarters of the Coptic church in Egypt, as well as the home of its leader, Pope Tawadros II. Video showed windows blown out (see photo), furniture and clothing scattered in the church, and blood on the floor. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi identified the attacker as a suicide bomber, Mahmoud Shafiq Mohammed Mustafa, age 22, and said three men and a woman were arrested in connection with the attack. There has been no claim of responsibility.
The attack comes two days after a bombing at a police checkpoint on the main road leading from Cairo to the Giza Pyramids, which killed six police officers. The extremist group that claimed responsibility for that attack, called Hasm (“Decisiveness”), denied involvement in the church bombing, saying it does not kill women, children, the elderly, or worshipers.
The bombing on December 11 is the worst attack on a Coptic church in Egypt since January 2011, when a bombing at a church in Alexandria, in northern Egypt, killed 23 people as they were leaving a New Year’s Day service. Coptic Christians have also been targeted in a series of smaller-scale attacks—particularly in Minya Province, about 125 miles south of Cairo—since 2013, after Egypt’s Islamist President, Mohammed Morsi, was deposed in a military coup.
Turkey: Kurdish Group Claims Responsibility for Twin Bombing in Istanbul
A Kurdish militant group associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has claimed responsibility for two bombings that killed 44 people—including 36 police officers—and wounded more than 149 people outside a soccer stadium in Istanbul on December 11. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) announced on their website that two of their members conducted the twin bombings. Although the relationship between the PKK and the TAK is murky, an article published in July by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point states that the TAK is “best understood as a terrorist proxy of the PKK, which has tasked it with launching attacks . . . without tarnishing the brand of the PKK.”
The attack began with a car bomb that targeted a group of riot police posted near the stadium after a soccer match, according to Turkey’s Interior Minister. The second explosion, believed to have been conducted by a suicide bomber, occurred less than a minute later, in a group of police officers.