NEW YORK (JTA) — Rashid Baz, the Lebanese cab driver convicted in the 1994 murder of Ari Halberstam, admitted that he had been looking to kill some Jews that day, the New York Post reported.
Baz, who is serving a 141-year prison sentence, opened fire on a van full of Chasidic youths on a ramp approach to the Brooklyn Bridge on March 1, 1994, just days after the Hebron massacre of 29 Arabs by Baruch Goldstein. The attack killed Halberstam, a 16-year-old yeshiva student, and left another boy critically injured.
For years, Baz’s defense was that the shooting was the result of a traffic accident, and the FBI initially classified the incident as a case of road rage. But Halberstam’s mother, Devorah Halberstam, waged an aggressive public campaign to have the shooting recognized as a terrorist attack, and numerous officials rallied to her cause. Federal officials eventually reversed their analysis.
Several years after the shooting, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani renamed the ramp approach to the bridge in Ari Halberstam’s honor.
In 2007, Baz finally confessed that the killing was not the result of a chance encounter but that he had been looking to kill some Jews, the Post reported. Though the confession is several years old, it was only reported this week.
Baz told investigators that he followed the van, which had been trailing the motorcade of the Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, for more than two miles before the shooting, according to the Post. He was carrying three weapons with him, including a machine gun that he had moved from the trunk of his car into the cab before the shooting.
“I only shot them because they were Jewish,” Baz reportedly said in his confession.