The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said on Monday that it is offering a $50,000 reward for information that aids in the arrest and conviction of those who were part of a 1994 attack on Jewish students.
Ari Halberstam, 16, was murdered on the Brooklyn Bridge nearly three decades ago by Rashid Baz, who also fired upon 14 other Jewish teens in a van. Baz, a Lebanese livery cab driver, died last year in prison.
The yeshiva students were returning from a prayer vigil for the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who was in the hospital at the time. Some allege that Baz's intended target was not the boys but the Rebbe himself.
Despite Baz announcing "I only shot them because they were Jewish," the FBI for years had classified the shooting as road rage.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that since Baz can no longer be a source of information, he hopes that the new reward will incentivize anyone who has any tips in this case to step forward.
“The death of Ari Halberstam was indisputably an antisemitic terrorist attack and a hate crime that sent shock waves through the Jewish community and the entire country,” Greenblatt said. “We greatly appreciate the federal government’s efforts to seek justice against Baz and his co-conspirators. But the question remains: Were others involved as part of a larger conspiracy?"
Terrorism in America pre-9/11
Motti Seligson, director of media relations at Chabad.org, noted in an interview with JNS that the tragedy occurred in "a pre-9/11 time."
"America did not understand how to investigate terror cases and the nature of terrorist networks and cells and how they operate," Seligson said. "The case was not adequately investigated, and all leads were not exhausted in 1994, leaving many questions unanswered. Many feel that the shooter was covering for co-conspirators that he did not name."
Ari's mother, Devorah Halberstam, who now serves as director of external relations at the Brooklyn Jewish Children’s Museum, said in a 2019 interview that New York City needs "a much more aggressive approach" to fighting antisemitism.