New York governor: Hanukkah knife attack act of 'domestic terror'

Andrew Cuomo said he wanted New York to become the first US state to have a 'domestic terrorism' law.

    New York's governor has said a knife attack by an assailant who burst into a party at a Hasidic rabbi's home and stabbed five people late on Saturday was an act of "domestic terrorism".

    Visiting the scene in Rockland County, about 48km (30 miles) north of New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday met the victims who had been attending the Hanukkah celebration at the home of rabbi Chaim Rottenberg.

    "This is an act of terrorism. I think these are domestic terrorists. They are trying to inflict fear," Cuomo told reporters at the scene.

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    "These are people who intend to create mass harm, mass violence, generate fear based on race, colour, creed."

    He said he wanted New York to become the first US state to have a "domestic terrorism law".

    The suspect was identified by police as a local man from Greenwood Lake, New York. Authorities said the assailant was arrested in New York City's Manhattan borough after fleeing from the scene in the small town of Monsey by car.

    According to Yossi Gestetner, a cofounder of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council, the attacker had his face partially covered with a scarf when he stabbed five people, two of whom were in a critical condition.

    "One of the rabbi's children were also stabbed," Gestetner told reporters.

    About a third of the population of Rockland County is Jewish, including a large enclave of Orthodox Jews who live in secluded communities.

    Jews targeted

    The Saturday night attack appeared to be the latest in a string targeting Jews in the United States, including an attack at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey earlier this month.

    Six people died in the shooting, including the two suspects and a police officer.

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    New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the attack was driven by hatred of Jews and law enforcement.

    A month ago, a man required surgery after he was stabbed while walking to a Monsey synagogue.

    In April 2019, a gunman killed a female rabbi and wounded three people during Sabbath services at Congregation Chabad in Poway, near San Diego, on the last day of Passover.

    Last year a white supremacist walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 people - the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in the US.

    A report in April from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) stated that the number of anti-Jewish attacks in 2018 was close to the record of 2017, with 1,879 incidents.

    SOURCE: News agencies