Five Israelis Held In New YorkFive young Israelis are "on the verge of collapse," according to family members, as their incarceration in New York on charges relating to the Bin Laden attacks continues. They were arrested on Sept. 11, only hours after the World Trade Center attack, on charges of "plotting to blow up" a New York bridge.
Katie Shmuel of the Galilee town of Yokne'am, southeast of Haifa, says that her son Yaron is in "a very critical psychological situation," given that they are not allowed to have visitors and the difficult conditions in which they are being held. "Even the Israeli Consul-General in New York was allowed to visit only after asking several times and receiving a special permit," Katie told Arutz-7's Yosef Zalmanson today. "He was allowed to talk to them only in English, and only from behind a glass partition. The Consul told me that the boys are in a bad state and that they are being held under difficult conditions."
When asked why the five youths, aged 22-26, are being held, Katie replied with despair: "It's ludicrous. They were on the George Washington Bridge [between upper Manhattan and New Jersey] at the time of the bombing, and the FBI had warnings of a terrorist plot, of guys in a white van, to blow up the bridge. So when the FBI saw this van, with my son and his four friends - one of them had a large sum of money, there were two razor knives in the van, and one of the boys is named Omer, which the FBI guys thought was Omar - they put one and one together and got three, and immediately arrested them... For the first few days, the boys were held in an FBI dungeon, tied up, with no clothes and no food." She said that original reports that they had been arrested while boisterously watching the disaster from a rooftop "are totally fabricated. For one thing, they weren't even on a roof, they were in a van..."
When asked how she explains her son's continued incarceration and that of his friends, she said, "I truly have no explanation for this incredible story - except this: The Americans are using them as pawns to pressure the Israeli government. Am I being clear enough?" She said that President Moshe Katzav and others had attempted to intervene, but there have been no results so far. The youths are being held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.
A spokesperson for the Israeli Consulate in New York told Arutz-7 that in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, "the Americans now have different procedures for dealing with the detention of anyone arrested in connection with the attacks. Every single request of ours must go through the FBI and the State Department's legal team." She said, "We are doing as much as we possibly can on their behalf," including, she said, getting local Jewish leaders involved in the cause of the imprisoned young Israelis.