Originally published under the title "An American Infidel in Abu Dhabi"; slightly revised to clarify timeline.
Ibolya Ryan, an American schoolteacher and mother of two, was stabbed to death in Abu Dhabi on December 1.
On December 1st, a figure in a black burqa, armed with an eight-inch knife, entered the upscale Boutik shopping mall located in Reem Island, the neighborhood where most of Abu Dhabi's 40,000 expatriates live.
The black burqa'ed figure waited for more than an hour in a woman's toilet—then stabbed the first white blonde infidel American woman who came in to use the facilities six times until she was dead. Then, with the possible help of two other women, the mysterious black burqa'ed figure either smoothly and calmly walked away, or did so in a frenzied fashion (there are conflicting eye witness reports about this). In any event, the killer entered an elevator and disappeared.
The victim's name was Ibolya Ryan. She was a Hungarian-born and Romanian-raised kindergarten teacher and the divorced mother of two 11 year-old twin boys, Adam and Aiden. Her former husband lives in Colorado. Ryan had described herself in an online profile for a teacher-recruiting company as "Romanian born" and someone who has worked "in four countries over the last 15 years." Ryan wanted to "experience the Arab world…their culture and daily life."
Tragically, she has done just that. At a time of fierce Islamic fundamentalist jihad, Ibolya, a civilian, may have been targeted by jihadists. In the wake of an anonymous posting on a jihadist site that encouraged attacks on American teachers in the Middle East, the U.S. embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE posted an October 29 security warning for U.S. citizens, especially "teachers at international schools." This included the following:
Avoid crowds or large gatherings when traveling in public; Identify safe areas (for example police stations, hospitals) in your area and how to get to them quickly; Tell co-workers or neighbors where you are going and when you intend to return; Minimize your profile while in public; Always carry a cellphone…; Be prepared to postpone or cancel activities for personal safety concerns.
In other words: Live vigilantly, live fearfully, live indoors as much as possible and have as little contact with strangers, especially with Arab Muslim strangers, as possible.
This is no way to live. But that is the point of such terrorist intimidation-- namely, to make life unlivable, unbearable, so that the infidel will either convert to jihadist Islamism or leave Muslim lands.
The point of such terrorist intimidation ... [is] to make life unlivable, unbearable, so that the infidel will either convert to jihadist Islamism or leave Muslim lands.
On the other hand, the UAE is a strong ally of the United States. Every state in the United States exports to the UAE and more than 1000 American firms have an on-the-ground presence. Strategic American and UAE alliances exist in terms of oil, medical, and military equipment and personnel—but most important, perhaps, is the fact that the UAE "was the first country to support the United States at the advent of Desert Storm; the only Arab country to participate with the US in five coalition actions over the last 20 years: Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Bosnia-Kosovo, and the First Gulf War."
More importantly, the UAE supports and enforces UN sanctions to contain Iranian nuclear weapons capabilities and, since mid-September of this year, "the UAE has flown dozens of missions against ISIL targets."
The murder of Ibolya Ryan might also have been a targeted message to the governments of both the UAE and the United States, one that hoped to destroy their relationship in terms of the ongoing joint fight against the most barbaric forms of Islamic fundamentalism.
Jihadists wish to intimidate Americans abroad in Muslim countries so that they move back to America. But jihadists also wish to punish any individual Muslim or Muslim country for daring to work with infidels against Islamic fundamentalists. How this intimidation is handled, both by individuals and by governments, is bound to affect the course of the war between civilization and barbarism.
Phyllis Chesler, an emerita professor of psychology and women's studies and the author of fifteen books, is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.