The Associated Press has posted four stories during the past week on the machete-wielding Islamist who attacked patrons at the Nazareth Restaurant and Deli in Columbus, Ohio on February 11, seriously wounding several.
The wire service's coverage has been a textbook example of deliberate reality avoidance.
An initial unbylined report filed shortly after midnight on February 12 was understandably vague, but gave away early hints that there would be a determined effort to prevent the public from learning more:
Police shot and killed a man who stormed into a central Ohio restaurant wielding a machete and randomly attacking people as they sat unsuspectingly at their dinner tables, authorities said.
Four people were injured in the brutal attack Thursday evening at Nazareth Restaurant and Deli, a Mediterranean restaurant in Columbus. The victims were taken to an area hospital and were expected to recover.
"There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after," said Columbus police Sgt. Rich Weiner.
Police said the man walked into the restaurant, had a conversation with an employee and then left. He returned about a half hour later. That's when police said he approached a man and a woman who were sitting just inside the door at a booth and started the attack.
... The man eventually fled the scene in a white car and led police on a short chase. ... an officer shot and killed the man.
... It remained unclear what sparked the attacks.
"Right now there's nothing that leads us to believe that this is anything but a random attack," said Weiner.
As will be seen later, the initial "expected to recover" assessment of the victims' status seriously downplayed what was done to them.
The second story, also unbylined, contained a timeline which began February 12 at 8:40 a.m. and continued until late that afternoon. Its first two entries insisted that "It's unclear" what motivated the attack.
That story's 3 p.m. entry contains these jaw-dropping paragraphs:
The owner of an Ohio restaurant where a man attacked patrons with a machete before being killed by police says he believes his establishment was targeted because he is Israeli, but the FBI isn't so sure.
Hany Baransi tells The Columbus Dispatch that he thinks the machete-wielding man purposely chose the Nazareth Restaurant and Deli on Thursday instead of one of the other nearby businesses in the strip mall.
FBI Special Agent Rick Smith says it's too early in the investigation to jump to any conclusions.
Apparently, the FBI's reaction to Baransi's claim was on the order of, "Aw, he's just the owner. What the heck does he know?"
Perhaps the "Israeli" part had not yet been publicly established, but there was already no doubt that the restaurant was "targeted." In an interview seen here, Baransi told the Columbus Dispatch:
What happened is somebody who has come, checked out the place, asked about me, and I was told that he left, came back 30 minutes later, and attacked a person and started slicing up people down the booths.
If that doesn't indicate "targeting," what does?
In the final entry in that timeline story, the AP reported that "Police say information connected to the registration of a car driven by a suspect in a restaurant machete attack led them to contact the FBI."
The third AP story, written by Kantele Franko, stuck to the authorities' "no rhyme or reason" mantra, even as it gave evidence which moved the BS meter for such a claim well into the red:
'No rhyme or reason' for machete attack at Ohio restaurant
... Columbus police identified the attacker as 30-year-old Mohamed Barry. They didn't give a hometown for him, and his background isn't immediately clear.
It's unclear what motivated the Thursday evening attack at Nazareth Restaurant and Deli. Columbus police confirmed they're working with federal authorities on the investigation.
"Lone individual, machete, going into a public place, committing an assault on people that he apparently does not know," Columbus Deputy Chief Michael Woods said. "Those are the things that give us concern and those are things we wanted to answer right away."
Information connected to the registration of the suspect's car triggered an alert that required contacting the local terrorism task force, including the FBI, Weiner said.
Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said the man wasn't known to police.
Owner Hany Baransi told The Columbus Dispatch he believes his restaurant was targeted because he is Israeli. But FBI Special Agent Rick Smith told the newspaper it's too early in the investigation to jump to any conclusions.
Police credited the employees and patrons with acting quickly and observantly to fend off the man and help authorities catch him. Some threw chairs at the attacker, who'd been there about a half hour earlier but left after a conversation with an employee, and someone scuffled with the man before he fled in a car, Weiner said.
At NewsBusters last Friday evening, Matt Balan ran down the Big 3 networks' coverage of the attack — coverage which, though it avoided Islamist labeling and had several serious shortcomings, did a far better job of reporting key details than the AP, more than likely indicating that Columbus TV and radio network affiliates were providing far more useful information than the wire service which calls itself "The Essential Global News Network":
... CBS's Jeff Pegues underlined that "police say the assault has the hallmarks of a terrorism-inspired attack." Pegues was also the only Big Three correspondent to report that Barry was "here in the U.S. on a green card."
All three programs noted that the restaurant owner's Israeli background. However, NBC's Pete Williams was the only one to specify that "the owner...is from Israel — a Christian Arab. Investigators are looking at whether Barry may have mistakenly thought he was Jewish." Williams also revealed that "radical comments by him [Barry] four years ago brought a brief look from the FBI, which then moved on."
... (CBS's Pegues) failed to give a specific detail that was mentioned in CBS News's reporting on the attack online — that "the suspected attacker has a Somali background, and officials believe he may have traveled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2012."
The fourth AP story, an unbylined dispatch filed on Monday, is the ultimate stinker. Here it is, in full:
There are several classic dodges here.
First, the fact that the FBI said it's "premature to discuss what motivated" Barry doesn't mean that it's premature to discuss what Baransi himself said in a radio interview on Sunday, as carried at Breitbart News:
Ohio Restaurant Owner: Machete Attack ‘Most Definitely’ Terrorism; Argued with Local Arabs About Israel
During a radio interview on Sunday, the Israeli Arab owner of the Columbus, Ohio, restaurant attacked by a machete-wielding Muslim immigrant from West Africa said he “most definitely” believes the incident was a terrorist act.
... Asked why he thought the attack was a terrorist incident, Baransi replied, “I’m from Israel. I’m a very outspoken Israeli Arab. People don’t like that here. I don’t have too many friends.”
Klein asked Baransi to elaborate on his outspoken views. The restaurant owner said he often debated with local Arabs who expressed anti-Israel sentiment.
... "Israel to me is the greatest country in the Middle East. And I’m tired with people putting us down and putting the Jewish people down. And I defend that."
... According to Baransi, the suspected attacker, Mohamed Barry, 30, came into the Nazareth restaurant thirty minutes before the attack and inquired about Baransi’s Israeli background.
He told Klein that Barry walked in, “and one of my waitresses was in the front greeting people. He looked around. I have by the cashier area [an] Israeli flag, an American flag. And he looked around and asked where was I. Asked where was I from. And when I was coming back and such.”
“Then he left, came back thirty minutes later with a knife and machete and walked into the restaurant and went from one table to another slashing people,” Baransi stated.
Second, it can only be seen as deliberate that the national press has utterly failed to relay what WBNS-TV in Columbus reported, namely that "Sources say Barry yelled out the phrase 'Allahu Akbar', meaning God is greater, before police gunned him down."
Third, who cares whether Barry was "known to the police" in Columbus before the attack? He was known to the FBI, which apparently and clearly erroneously determined that he wasn't worth monitoring four years ago.
Finally, it's unspeakably offensive that the AP would only tell readers that "four people were hurt," especially in light of the breezy "expected to recover" description in the wire service's first report.
The fact is that only one of the four victims was quickly treated and released. Two of the other three, a couple married for almost 25 years, are still recovering from serious injuries, but are in remarkable spirits:
Gerald and Debbie Russell weren’t able to hold hands on Valentine’s Day as they reclined on adjacent beds in the trauma unit at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center.
From their fingertips to their elbows, their arms are heavily wrapped in bandages to cover the wounds they received when a man armed with a machete attacked them and others at a Northeast Side restaurant on Thursday night.
But the high-school sweethearts, both 43 and married for nearly 25 years, weren’t allowing their injuries to spoil the romance of the day.
“Someone was asking what Valentine’s Day was going to be like for us,” Mr. Russell said. “I told them, ‘I’m going to be sitting next to Debbie the whole day. What could be better than that?’“
The Johnstown couple is thankful to be alive and grateful for Grant surgeons who spent hours repairing tendons, arteries and nerves in their hands and performing microsurgery that appears to have saved two fingers that nearly were severed from Mrs. Russell’s left hand.
... They hope to be released from the hospital this week and will get plenty of help from their sons, ages 19 and 23, before beginning lengthy sessions of physical therapy.
“I’m not going to be bitter,” Mrs. Russell said. “My husband is OK, I’m OK. We’re going to make it. If we’re a few fingers short, we’ll still be sitting next to each other till the end.”
Fox News Channel 8 in Columbus has reported in its video coverage that the couple "did not want us to show their faces."
The fourth victim is not as fortunate, but heroically intervened, and likely helped save others from a gruesome fate:
Barry also attacked William Foley, a musician performing at the restaurant, and Neil McMeekin before he was chased away by a restaurant employee with a bat and a patron flinging chairs, Columbus police have said. The Russells were gone before seeing anyone intervene.
Foley, 54, was in critical but stable condition the day after the attacks, but the hospital is no longer releasing information about his condition.
(Foley) engaged "in a physical altercation with him to keep him from hurting or even killing the other people in the restaurant. He was then critically injured in the process."
... Foley remains in the intensive care unit at Grant Medical Center in serious condition.
A recent entry at the GoFundMe campaign set up to help with Foley's medical bills reports that hr is now "on the road to recovery." An earlier entry reports that Foley "fearlessly fought the attacker in an effort to protect others and was critically injured."
Baransi is now concerned that his presence is a danger to others, and is even wondering whether he will stay in the U.S.:
Hany Baransi says he’s decided he needs to step away from his restaurant.
Baransi says he feels guilt that because he flew an Israeli flag in his business that he is responsible for the injuries suffered to his customers.
... Nazareth Restaurant has been in business for 27 years. Baransi says the crime haunts him and believes it's best he not return.
“I'm scared for me for my staff maybe people if they know I'm not here they will leave them alone it's not easy to live with guilt of seeing my best friend in a hospital bed fighting for his life,” Baransi said.
That friend is Bill Foley who is still recovering from his wounds.
It looks like the fact that a clearly proud man is being intimidated by terror after an attack which made national news is only a local story. I would be wondering if Baransi has received additional personal threats. Regardless, he clearly understands the "motivation" of Mohamed Barry and others who might seek to emulate him, even if the authorities and the national press won't admit it.
The shameful sequence of Associated Press reports described here explains why the average person who doesn't follow the news closely is mostly unaware of the serious extent of homegrown Islamist terror. When such attacks occur, the AP, one of the nation's key news gatekeepers, does everything it can to minimize its exposure and to downplay its horrible damage.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.