During a radio interview on Sunday, the Israeli Arab owner of the Columbus, Ohio, restaurant attacked by a machete-wielding Muslim immigrant from West Africa said he “most definitely” believes the incident was a terrorist act.
Hany Baransi, the Israeli Arab owner Nazareth Mediterranean Cuisine, revealed in the interview that he often argued with local Arabs about his staunch pro-Israel views.
Baransi was speaking on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” the popular weekend talk radio show broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and NewsTalk 990 AM in Philadelphia. Klein doubles as Breitbart Jerusalem’s bureau chief and senior investigative reporter.
Asked why he thought the attack was a terrorist incident, Baransi replied, “I’m from Israel. I’m a very outspoken Israeli Arab. People don’t like that here. I don’t have too many friends.”
Klein asked Baransi to elaborate on his outspoken views. The restaurant owner said he often debated with local Arabs who expressed anti-Israel sentiment.
When I meet Arabs, they ask me “where are you from.” I say, “I’m from Israel.” And then they start arguing about Palestine and stuff. You might be Palestinian. I’m not. I’m Israeli. I have Israeli citizenship. I’m a proud Israeli citizen.
And I try to talk to them back. “Hey, do you know there’s a democracy in Israel? Do you know the Muslim in Israel has more freedom than any Muslim in any other country?”
Israel to me is the greatest country in the Middle East. And I’m tired with people putting us down and putting the Jewish people down. And I defend that.
Baransi said he was born in Haifa, Israel in 1965 and was raised Catholic. He said he immigrated to the U.S. in 1983.
According to Baransi, the suspected attacker, Mohamed Barry, 30, came into the Nazareth restaurant thirty minutes before the attack and inquired about Baransi’s Israeli background.
He told Klein that Barry walked in, “and one of my waitresses was in the front greeting people. He looked around. I have by the cashier area [an] Israeli flag, an American flag. And he looked around and asked where was I. Asked where was I from. And when I was coming back and such.”
“Then he left, came back thirty minutes later with a knife and machete and walked into the restaurant and went from one table to another slashing people,” Baransi stated.
Barry injured four people in the brutal attack before taking off and being chased down by local police who were able to identify his vehicle utilizing witness reports.
CNN reported on the police chase:
Once authorities were able to get the suspect off the road, he tried to exit from the passenger side of the vehicle and an officer unsuccessfully tried to use a stun gun on him, Weiner said.
The suspect eventually made it out of the vehicle with a machete and another knife in hand.
Then, “he lunged across the hood at the officers,” Weiner said. “Another officer in a cruiser fired a couple shots at him and put him down.”
Barry’s uncle told local media that the suspect was born in Guinea and moved to the U.S. in 2000, living mostly in Philadelphia, and then moving about two years ago to Columbus.
NBC4 in Columbus quoted law enforcement sources saying the FBI had investigated Barry four years ago over expressing radical Islamic views.
According to Fox News, federal authorities are investigating whether the carnage was a lone wolf terror attack, while local police say there is no evidence of a terrorist motive.
CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reported local officials believe Barry may have traveled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2012.
The news agency added: “Pegues reports that law enforcement is concerned that this incident has the hallmarks of the type of so-called “lone wolf” terrorist attack that they have been working to stop.”