The Nazareth Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, reopened today following Thursday night’s machete attack that may or may not be domestic terrorism.
Owner Hany Baransi, an Israeli Christian Arab, says he will continue to proudly display the flag of his home country, as well as the American flag, in the window of his popular eatery.
The FBI and Homeland Security are investigating the ghastly incident as a possible lone wolf attack, but according to NBC News, the suspect was briefly on the FBI’s radar screen four years ago for possible ties to terrorism.
The suspect, Mohamed Barry, allegedly slashed four patrons at the restaurant and was shot and killed at the end of a five-mile police chase.
Originally identified as someone with a Somali background, authorities now indicate that he was an immigrant from Guinea in West Africa.
Baransi, who had taken a rare night off when the attack occurred, thinks his restaurant was targeted because he was from Israel, but added, “I hope I’m wrong. I hope it’s not the case.”
The suspect asked workers where Hany Baransi was from before returning a half hour later with the weapon and began the rampage. “Police credited the employees and patrons with acting quickly and observantly to fend off the man and help authorities catch him,” the Times of Israel explained. Fortunately, the four victims are expected to survive, although one is in critical but stable condition.
In an interview with The Tower, Baransi rejected the idea of taking down the Israeli flag from the restaurant’s entrance area.
“Actually I have another flag, and I am going to get a bigger flag, and I am going to get a Star of David necklace and put it on my chest, and I am going to get a tattoo. Honest to God, I am not kidding. They don’t scare me. We are Israelis. We are Israelis. We are resilient, we fight back.”
Hany Baransi, who is originally from Haifa in northern Israel, came to America in 1983.
“He yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’and then he attacked them with the machete and that’s when they shot him and killed him,” said Baransi about the suspect’s confrontation with local cops.
Gathering at noon Monday 2/15/16 at Nazareth Restaurant & Deli at noon to show support to Hany J. Baransi & staff. pic.twitter.com/Pyzalv2o0w— Karen Twinem (@ktwinem) February 13, 2016
The Nazareth is known for its multicultural atmosphere and in addition to the flags, the entrance has a sign with the Arabic greeting “Ahlan Wa Shalan” which translates to “You are my family, take it easy.”
In a radio interview with Aaron Klein, Baransi further expounded on his pro-Israel views, Breitbart News reported.
“When I meet Arabs, they ask me ‘where are you from.’ I say, ‘I’m from Israel.’ And then they start arguing about Palestine and stuff. You might be Palestinian. I’m not. I’m Israeli. I have Israeli citizenship. I’m a proud Israeli citizen.
“And I try to talk to them back. ‘Hey, do you know there’s a democracy in Israel? Do you know the Muslim in Israel has more freedom than any Muslim in any other country?’…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.”
A former employee has set up a GoFundMe page for the Nazareth Restaurant, which has raised about $17,000 so far. Funds will be go to help pay the medical bills of the victims as well as compensating employees for lost wages while the restaurant was closed, along assistance with getting the restaurant up and running again.
[Photo by Kantele Franko/AP]