Mental illness as an excuse for terror – analysis

Relatives claim that Jerusalem terrorist was psychiatrically compromised but fail to mention that his social media accounts contained posts praising terrorists and terror groups.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israelis were left stunned by a brutal ramming attack at a bus stop in the Ramot neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem that left three dead on Friday afternoon, just a few hours before the start of Shabbat.

Two brothers, six and eight years old, were murdered, along with a 20-year-old man. Two other victims are in hospital in moderate condition.

News quickly spread that the perpetrator, 31-year-old Hussein Qaraqa, was mentally ill and had been released from a psychiatric hospital less than 24 hours before the attack.

Qaraqa’s family members promoted the narrative that he was so mentally compromised that the ramming couldn’t have been an act of intentional terrorism.

“He had a car accident awhile ago and severely injured his back, which led to more than five surgeries on his spine,” Qaraqa’s uncle told CNN.

“He was on very heavy medication and painkillers, which affected his nervous system” and led to the development of a mental illness, he added.

“I’m sorry for what happened. It’s a tragedy, but it’s not a terror attack,” another relative told Haaretz. “He never talked about politics, he wouldn’t even listen to the news. I can assure you a million percent that it wasn’t a terror attack.”

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“Hussein was sick, he was being treated with medication and was recently hospitalized… The car skidded and there was probably an accident,” another relative told Ynet.

However, Qaraqa’s relatives failed to mention that his social media profiles contained numerous posts praising terror attacks and the Islamic Jihad terror group, according to Hebrew-language media.

In late December 2022, Qaraqa wrote a glowing memorial Facebook post commemorating terrorists who had been killed that year while committing attacks against Israelis, referring to them as “martyrs.”

Qaraqa also had a criminal history, including threatening a police officer and assaulting a municipal worker at a Tel Aviv beach.

Although doctors confirmed that Qaraqa had experienced an acute psychiatric episode the day before the attack – which one mental health professional described as a “panic attack” – it doesn’t explain why he chose to target visibly Jewish civilians at a Ramot bus stop.

Qaraqa was from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, where there are numerous bus stops, busy shopping streets and crowded pedestrian areas. Had he been overwhelmed by a psychotic urge to murder random people, Qaraqa could have easily rammed a group of Arab Israelis in his neighborhood.

However, he instead chose to drive some 10 kilometers (6 miles) to a Jewish area in order to commit the ramming attack, which underscores a sense of intention in his decision.

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It’s clear that Qaraqa struggled with mental health issues, and he was likely physically and psychologically addicted to pain medication prescribed to him for chronic pain after a major car accident.

But Qaraqa’s intentional targeting of ultra-Orthodox civilians, dressed in traditional religious Jewish clothing in an area several miles away from his home, along with his social media posts praising terror, paint a picture of a man who set out to murder Jews.