NEW YORK (Nov. 8)
Still baffled over the motives involved in the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, police investigators are maintaining that Egyptian-born suspect El-Sayyid Nosair appears to have acted alone.
The 34-year-old Nosair, who after awakening from sedation was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder, attempted murder, assault, unlawful imprisonment and possession of weapons, has not yet entered a plea in response to the charges. He is to appear in Criminal Court next week for further proceedings.
The unusual arraignment took place before Criminal Court Judge Harvey Glasser in the intensive care unit of Bellevue Hospital, where the suspect, under tight surveillance by highly armed guards, is still recuperating from surgery.
During the arraignment Nosair, unable to speak because of a breathing tube inserted in his throat, wrote down what sources said they believed was a pre-arranged story asserting his innocence.
Hospital officials said Thursday evening that Nosair’s condition had been upgraded from critical to fair and he was no longer connected to a breathing tube.
A New York employee, Nosair was involuntarily transferred on the day of the assassination and became agitated as a result, according to New York Newsday. “The same day he was transferred he got violent in the locker room,” said one source.
A ranking police official suggested the attack on Kahane may have been spontaneous. “We interviewed co-workers, his wife, people at the mosque,” Chief of Detectives Joseph Borelli said at a news conference Wednesday. “No one has indicated in any fashion that he had any dislike for or hated the rabbi.”
Conducting a thorough search of Nosair’s two-story house in Cliffside Park, N.J., the police found boxes of files and papers, along with a slab of sheetrock filled with bullet holes.
Though the files contained articles about firearms and explosives, the police did not feel there was evidence of any conspiracy to kill Kahane. The sheetrock was used for target practice, Borelli explained, adding that Nosair went to a rifle range regularly to practice shooting as a hobby.
A joint anti-terrorist task force of the New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been established to uncover any possible links to the slaying, but so far, according to officials, nothing has been discovered.
Abdel Nosair, the father of the alleged assassin, claimed his son had no political interests. The suspect’s American-born wife, Caren, told the police that her husband had been depressed lately. Nosair does not have a prior police record.
Chief Borelli said he did not think the apparent difficulty of the police in establishing motive would prove to be a major problem for prosecuting the case.
“We’ve got witnesses and we’ve got evidence,” he said. “At this point it looks like he was a lone gunman who committed a murder. Why he did it we may never know.”